New Delhi: The BJP has identified two factors that were responsible for its defeat in Delhi: The Congress and the top guns of the BJP who descended on the national capital to campaign.
These two, apart from faulty ticket-distribution and infighting, came out as the main reasons in the first 10 hours of the brainstorming session Friday.
The session was attended by BJP’s general secretaries Arun Singh, Anil Jain, national joint general secretary (organisation) V. Satish, apart from Delhi state unit chief Manoj Tiwari, district presidents, election in charges and other functionaries.
None of the participants blamed hate speeches by party leaders such as Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for the party’s defeat.
“The Congress fought not to win but to defeat the BJP. Not only did they delay their campaigning but at the same time, the entire management was also done to ensure that BJP candidates did not get the votes,” said a leader, emerging out of the meeting at BJP’s state unit office at Pandit Pant Marg.
“At the counter that was set up to hand over voter slips at the polling booths, they were distributing AAP slips and not their own.”
The heavy deployment of senior BJP leaders, star campaigners for Delhi elections who were supposed to help the party, ended up hurting it, said many who attended the meeting.
“Thanks to the heavy deployment of senior leaders, resources and time of candidates was also spent on making arrangements for them rather than focusing on their seat,” the leader said.
The BJP had fielded a battery of union ministers, chief ministers and parliamentarians during the poll campaign. Union Home Minister Amit Shah himself addressed close to 50 big and small meetings and roadshows in the national capital.
The BJP’s meeting to do a post-mortem of the elections began at 10 am and continued late into the evening. It will continue for the next three days.
Shaheen Bagh, ticket distribution figure in meeting
Shaheen Bagh also figured in the meeting with many pointing out that the protests helped AAP consolidate the Muslim vote, which impacted over 10-12 seats.
“The results show that the protests have the tacit support of AAP. The protests and the way the issue gained currency helped them to get the support of the Muslim community but it did not help the BJP in getting the Hindu votes,” said another leader.
“AAP won all the five seats — Ballimaran, Matia Mahal, Mustafabad, Okhla and Seelampur — where Muslims are estimated to constitute over 50 per cent of the population,” the second leader added. “It also won in many other seats that had 10-30 per cent Muslim population. We lost Mustafabad, a seat we had won the last time, because people didn’t vote for Congress but AAP”.
The late ticket distribution was also cited as another reason for the rout as many felt that it did not give them enough time to campaign. “Ticket distribution always leads to some discontent and many feel upset. We didn’t even get time to persuade those who were upset,” said a third BJP leader.
Another area of concern was that the party released the manifesto late and that led to many candidates not getting a copy of it.
“The manifesto was quite good but it came so late that most of our door-to-door meetings were over by then. AAP candidates were going to people talking about the freebies and the guarantee card; we had no idea what to say,” said a BJP functionary.
“There were many who said the manifesto came so late they didn’t even get a copy on time and many used newspaper clips while canvassing. We had no idea that we had promised free cycles and scooters. We read it in the papers.
“Many councillors indulged in anti-party activities. We always talk about our solid ground management, but it was missing this time,” the functionary added. “The party had said more members were added during the membership drive in Delhi but it seems even they were not able to convince their family members to vote for the party.”
However, most of the functionaries who attended the meeting felt at no point did they think they will be restricted to single digits.
“The campaign was going quite well and many said if elections would have taken place after, say, four days, the party would have done much better. It had started to pick up,” the functionary further said.