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November 9, 2015 / subramanyam

Lessons from Bi-haar

I am heart broken.  After the 2014 general election, I never followed any other election so closely.  The Modi fan I am, I wanted the BJP to win it and win it big.  The thrashing the party received today naturally left disappointed and dejected.

The initial trends showed a lead for the BJP, I saw that and went to the ToastMaster meetings that I had to attend.  Then a close friend informed me that the MGB was catching up and was leading by a slender margin.  The final results come up by the time the my TM session was over and whoa!!! its a landslide win for the Mahagatbandhan.

It took me 10 complete hours to come out of the sadness and have a balanced mind to write something.  This is the second

loss to BJP after the drubbing they had got in the national capital.  I discounted the loss that they got in New Delhi as the election in New Delhi cannot be compared to the election in any other state.   However, the loss in Bihar is big and this definitely calls for a large-scale retrospection.

When I look at the reasons for the loss.  These are the ones that come to mind.

1. BJP is failing hands down while handling a combined opposition.

          We saw this in New Delhi, we saw this Bihar.  BJP’s best shot at vote share currently is  35 – 40%.  This,  when pitted against a united opposition is not adequate.  In Bihar, it was BJP vs all and BJP lost it badly.   We saw the same show in New Delhi.

          If Nitish Kumar,  the man who  had been fighting Lalu for 20 years can join hands with the latter to save the CM chair.  If a man like him can leave the ideals and ideologies to winds, if an anti-corruption crusader like Kejriwal can celebrate the victory of an alliance in which Lalu and Congress are partners, yes this is what we going to see in the country in the days to come.   The opposition now knows the winning formula and they are going to do this in every election.  There would be no ideology, people would join hands for the sake of votes and create a united opposition that might hurt the BJP.

          The biggest question for BJP is as to  how they would handle a situation of that sort?  The only answer is increasing the vote share.  How do we do that?
a. Reaching out to new groups.  The unfortunate reality is that caste lines are getting stronger with each passing day and in many parts of the country, BJP is seen as a party of upper castes and Hindutvawadis.  The dialogue must begin with the backward castes, Dalits  and if possible with other communities too.   There is no denying of the fact that a good amount of votes are coming to BJP from Dalits and backward castes but then does BJP have a Dalit leader who can swing the fortunes of elections in their favor?  Unfortunately no.   This is something that is needed immediately.  It is always better to develop our strength, it is good if there are fissures in the enemy camp, even if they are not there we have our strength to see us through.

2.  The absence of Local leaders.
To me,  this is the second reason for the defeat of BJP in New Delhi and Bihar.  In both the places, they were fighting

BJP should have invested in leaders like Sushil Modi and created a breed of regional Satraps

BJP should have invested in leaders like Sushil Modi and created a breed of regional Satraps

strong regional satraps and not having a strong man in their own ranks costed them the election.   In New Delhi, they had Harshvardhan ji and in Bihar they had Sushil Modi ji as their best candidates.  The party must have felt that these people are no match to their opponents and did not project them.  That costed them heavily.   BJP should have invested in creating strong local leaders in both these elections.  Going forward, I believe they need to invest in regional leaders and let the local leaders carve out a brand for themselves.  That,  I think is a must for the assembly elections going forward.

3.  The loose tongue remarks should go.
I think there should be a culture where at least some people in the party must be restrained from making remarks that hurt the party.  Some people in BJP seem to have forgotten that the party is fighting with a very hostile media out there.   One word from Shri V.K Singh was twisted to an extent where Dalits seemed to have deserted BJP in some places.  One statement from the Hon. Chief Minister of Haryana was enough to create so much impact that only a person who lost the Bihar election can understand.   We have the Sakshi Maharaj ji and others who would  say  one thing or the other that would provide enough fodder for the media to run a vilification campaign for a week.

Can’t some of our leaders say no comments when they don’t agree on something?  We desperately want some silence from this brigade so that the development agenda of the party dominates the narrative.

Then even on Twitter, I was seeing that some of the over-enthusiastic supporters were thrashing people who tried to speak about the ground reality in Bihar.  Case in point is the way in which 5forty3 was hounded.   I think a change of attitude is definitely needed here.

4.  Some good media management, please ……
BJP has  a hostile media to deal with.  This is a fact.  As if this is not enough, sometimes, the party’s spokesmen sound utterly unprepared and horrible on TV.  Before 2014, we had people like Nirmala Seetharaman ji  and Smriti Irani ji who owned up the debates.  Toda, y why are we not having people of that quality representing BJP? As an afterthought,  Why can’t the party invest in its own media so that the alternative narrative reaches the people?    We are having enough battles to fight, let us not add media also there.

5.  Delivering on the Poll Promises ……
This is becoming a big area of concern. While the hope on Modi is intact, people are waiting for jobs, the big bang reforms and amongst other things cut down in taxes and prices.  This is not happening and that is giving way to frustration.  Modi is working 20 hours a day, we are seeing results on some fronts but there is a lot of ground to cover.  The party and the government need to address this.  Nothing is as good as a satisfied voter.

These are the top 5 things that came to my mind as to why there was a debacle in Bihar.

There are already theories which say that the Mahagatbandhan might fail and all.  I do not wish for that.  People of Bihar have given a decisive mandate and that needs to be honored.  I congratulate Nitish ji on his victory  and I wish that Biharis get what they were promised.

A failure teaches us more than what a victory does.  91.5 lakh voters in Bihar reposed their faith in the Bharatiya Janata Party and we can take some succor from that.  Learning the lessons and attacking the new problems with an enhanced vigor is the only way to move forward.

Wishing to see BJP rediscover its winning ways in 2016.


One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Prasad / Nov 9 2015 9:10 pm

    I am completely eco with Subbu. I think below reasons have big damage to BJP. 1. Mohan Bhagath Comments on Reservations.
    2. Basic Needs Prices Hike
    3. BJP didn’t responded quickly on Intolerance.


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