Till the reports came in last, it looks like there is going to be a hung assembly in the state of Haryana. As per trends, the Bharatiya Janata Party is leading on 39 seats out of 90 and in Maharashtra, BJP and Shiv Sena alliance is leading on more than 160 seats out of total 288 seats. Many poll pundits who had predicted a clean sweep for BJP have been proven wrong as the contest seems to be going down to the wire with Congress continuously breathing down BJP’s neck in Haryana. Even in Maharashtra where there were predictions of BJP winning two-third majority have come at a standstill. The victory might still be BJP’s but it surely would not be as sweet as it would have wanted it to be.
In the past 10 years, Haryana’s political landscape has gone through a sea change. BJP, which was a fringe-player till the 2009 polls, became the state’s most dominant party in 2014, doing exceedingly well in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in wake of the Modi wave. If we look at today’s performance compared to 2014, it is undoubtedly not a good sign for the BJP. In 2014, the BJP contested elections alone in both the states, winning 47 seats in Haryana, surprising everyone. This was the first time that the BJP had not only won the maximum number of seats in the state, but they formed the government on their own. Apart from this, BJP had the distinction of being the largest party in Maharashtra by earning 122 seats without the support of Shiv Sena. But this time around, the saffron party is struggling to save its government in Haryana. According to the current trends in Maharashtra, BJP is leading on more than 100 seats, which is less than the last time when it had won 122 seats. Interestingly, Shiv Sena has increased its tally this time around owing to which it would be looking to put pressure on its big-brother BJP for the CM post.
There are myriad reasons as to why the Bharatiya Janata Party has performed in a rather dismal manner in the elections. One of the main reasons is the election campaign which was really cold and uninspired from the beginning. BJP which earlier did not even take the Panchayat polls lightly, looked complacent and sat back and watched the proceedings unfold from far. BJP’s election campaign in both states was very weak. At the ground level, the BJP did not use its booth-to-booth campaigning formula, which has brought them enormous success previously. Even if BJP had a list of Star-campaigners chalked out, it did not really stick to it and failed to capitalize on the star-power of its big guns.
Yogi Adityanath, who is seen as a charismatic leader and a vote-puller after Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, was not used potently, due to which BJP seems to have suffered a lot. It was Yogi who had took on Congress and JDS all alone in Karnataka and also in Tripura, both states where BJP is in power now.
BJP which took pride in winning elections out of unwinnable position in states like Assam, Tripura where it had no major political ground will be feeling down and out today as the states where it had the confidence of getting a standout majority have let it down.
But this is not the first time that BJP has faced. Even before this, the BJP has suffered a big setback owing to such overconfidence. With different states having different social nuances, no single formula works everywhere and this enigma keeps political parties on their toes. The Delhi assembly elections are due next year and BJP needs to get its house in order. To rival a tough competitor like Arvind Kejriwal, there needs to be a proper CM face from the saffron party. It was Aam Aadmi Party in 2015 that had handed BJP it’s first drubbing after the dream run of 2014 in both national and state elections. BJP was humbled right under its nose, fair and square. Essentially, it all boils down to staying in the present and focusing on the task in hand, something which BJP took for granted this time around. Therefore, Bharatiya Janata Party needs to buckle up if it aims for any turnaround in fortunes in the Delhi assembly elections. Delhi might not be a big state, but in terms of optics, losing it could mean serious implications for the BJP. The Bihar assembly elections were another classic case-study of taking things for granted where the initial euphoria of leading in the trends quickly turned into a crushing and humiliating loss by the hands of Lalu and Nitish duo. Also, how can one forget the 2004 Lok Sabha elections? Bharatiya Janata Party, which came riding in the elections with its ‘India Shining’ slogan had to take a beating due to its overconfidence. Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani had later accepted this defeat saying, “We lost the 2004 elections because we had become overconfident”
Even though the party will be successful in forming the government in Maharashtra or for that matter in Haryana, courtesy some political maths, it does not hide the fact that BJP has its task cut out and if it does not pull up its socks, another drubbing might be on the cards for BJP in Delhi and the assembly elections result does not inspire much confidence for West Bengal where BJP is looking to de-throne Mamta’s TMC government. Assembly elections are a different ball game and clearly, BJP needs to revisit their poll strategy.
“You can never get complacent because a loss is always around the corner”: Venus Williams