New Delhi: As Delhi election trends crystallised in favour of AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday, the face of Home Minister Amit Shah, who led the BJP’s campaign, went missing on several news channels. On show instead was the face of J.P. Nadda, the party’s new president.
Nadda’s role in BJP’s defeat was discussed across news channels — from Zee News to Republic TV, Aaj Tak to ABP News.
Of these, ABP News had conducted a show on voting day, flashing pictures of Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But on the day of election results, the channel played pictures of Kejriwal, Nadda and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Asked how Nadda became the face of the party’s defeat in the Delhi assembly elections on TV channels, a senior BJP functionary told ThePrint that the party’s win and loss responsibility is collective and no one is blamed alone.
“We never ask for resignation based on performance. But maybe some people were showing Nadda ji’s picture because he is BJP president,” said the leader, who didn’t wish to be named.
However, a source in the party said, “It may be a strategy to hand over the charge of BJP president to Nadda three weeks before election to deflect attention from Shah after defeat.”
The source added, “It was a calculated strategy to organise only two rallies of PM to avoid embarrassment. And later BJP spin doctors may have communicated to TV channels to not show Amit Shah in their coverage.”
For the 8 February Delhi election marked by a bitter campaign, PM Modi represented the BJP on all publicity material, including hoardings.
However, it was Shah who spearheaded the campaign front and centre. He held nearly 50 small and large rallies and roadshows, and also supervised the election backroom management.
In comparison, Nadda held around 40 meetings.
When the verdict came Tuesday, the BJP could win only eight seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly while AAP won a massive 62.
How Shah set the narrative and formulated strategy
Leading the BJP campaign, it was Home Minister Amit Shah who set the narrative for Delhi assembly elections by first mentioning Shaheen Bagh at a social media volunteers meet on 24 January.
“When you press the button on February 8 do so with such anger that its current is felt at Shaheen Bagh,” he had said last month. In several later rallies, the HM aggressively attacked the anti-CAA protesters of Shaheen Bagh over issues of nationalism.
J.P. Nadda, who took over as BJP president from Shah just three weeks before Delhi elections, just emulated the home minister’s line at every public meeting.
A second BJP leader told ThePrint that it was Shah who supervised and monitored the party’s campaign, even holding meetings with leaders like I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, BJP’s national vice-president Shyam Jaju and general secretary B.L. Santhosh late at nights.
“Many times, it would be only the party functionary concerned, the minister in-charge and Santhosh with Shah during these meetings,” said the leader.
This is the reason why a Shah poster came up at the Delhi BJP headquarters saying ‘we don’t get disappointed by defeat’, said the party leader.