Nation Politics 12 Dec 2018 Heartbreak in heartl ...

Heartbreak in heartland: How BJP lost its citadels

Published Dec 12, 2018, 3:20 am IST
Updated Dec 12, 2018, 3:52 am IST
Hindutva, DeMo saffron recipe for electoral disaster.
A jubilant Congress  worker waves the party flag in Jabalpur on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)
 A jubilant Congress worker waves the party flag in Jabalpur on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: A "confused" and "over-empathised Hindutva" campaigning by the BJP leadership in the three key states in the 'Hindi heartland' failed to defuse the strong anti-incumbency against its sitting chief ministers in Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh or the growing need for a change, especially in Chattisgarh and MP where the saffron party had tried hard to continue for a fourth term.

Interestingly, Congress's organisational strength this time outflanked the BJP's, which has often flaunted its reach down to the booth levels, across the country.  
While farmers' distress, unemployment and corruption were common worrying factors for the BJP in the three states, in MP and Chattisgarh, the BJP's  "arrogance", its "inaccessible" leaders and its "over- dependence on bureaucrats" added to its woes as its self proclaimed poll plank of development failed to make the desired impact.


A united Congress and its organised campaign, made a major dent in the BJP's poll prospects. Seen as the semi-finals ahead of the 2019 electoral battle, the  assembly poll results of these three states will force the saffron leadership to re-strategise.      

Though the BJP tried hard to beat the "anti-incumbency," especially in MP and Chattisgarh where it replaced a significant number of its MLAs, including sitting ministers, the saffron poll managers failed to gauge the effect and impact of the "anti- incumbency."


Angry scenes faced by Shivraj Singh Chouhan's family members in his assembly constituency Budhni during campaigning had left the saffron poll managers troubled. Also, BJP rebels in all three states also damaged its poll prospects.
Admitting that the BJP's campaigning went off-course from the development plank, party's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade was quoted as saying that though losses in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh were "expected" but in Madhya Pradesh "we forgot the issue of development that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up in 2014 and turned our focus to statues, name-changing and the Ram temple."  
Hindutva icon and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath was one of the 'star campaigners' of the BJP in the three states and created a lot of controversies with his "polarising" speeches when the party's state units were harping on about development.


In RAJASTHAN, though the BJP lost to Congress, the outgoing chief minister and party stalwart Vasundhara Raje's efforts put the party back in the game and made sure that the state unit would not give up easily to the 25 year's old electoral jinx in the state, which had been giving chance to both the BJP and Congress alternately .  

In CHHATTISGARH, the outgoing chief minister Raman Singh's development plank failed to impress the voters, especially in the rural and tribal belt, which had favoured the saffron party during the last assembly polls. Though the BJP had often taken credit for some "popular" people centric schemes in both MP and Chhattisgarh, sources disclosed that most of these remained "program without philosophy" and many people not availing the benefits due to paper work and several rounds at the government offices.     


Rejecting oppositions' claim that the assembly polls results will impact the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP Rajya Sabha MP GVL Narsimha Rao said "Defeat in Chhattisgarh and a strong performance in neighbouring MP reveals that the elections were fought on local factors. Vote shares in MP and Rajasthan show transitory BJP loss and we will bounce back in LS polls."

Not anti-incumbency: Arun Jaitley

Rejecting that "anti-incumbency" was an issue, Union minister Arun Jaitley said "I think result was certainly not as expected and it's an opprtunity to pause and analyse, for results were not as per expected. In both Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh we were in power for 15 years and we have done well. I do not think there was anti-incumbency but fatigue factor does come in." He also that "issues in state elections are entirely different, we won all these states in December 2003 and lost the general election in 2004. Therefore these results do not reflect automatically. The 2019 elections will be around the performance of central government and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi."


After a much delay, BJP's national council is meeting next month in New Delhi from January 12 which could see serious introspection by the party leadership on the assembly polls losses and  fine-tuning of the party strategy to retain power in the crucial Lok Sabha polls.