A political suicide

Greater Kashmir

Confidence takes you through, overconfidence kills. BJP proves it

 “Confidence is good, but overconfidence always sinks the ship.” These wise words of Oscar Wilde, the renowned Irish writer, define the approach of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi polls. 

The confidence with which the party fought the 2014 general election turned into overconfidence within no time after coming to power at centre. And this overconfidence later led to arrogance, which has been evident during the BJP’s election campaigning in Delhi. 

The party’s arrogant approach did no good for them, but eventually helped Arvind Kejriwal make almost a clean sweep in the elections. Otherwise who had thought that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would not only recover the lost ground, but will make a party like BJP kiss the dust! 


Till the time Narendra Modi would project himself as son of a Chai Waala (tea vendor) prior to his Prime Ministership and later as Pradhan Sevak (chief servant) of the country, masses would find him humble and an aam aadmi could easily relate with him.

However, as Modi began to behave more like an emperor than a servant, Delhi voters turned to Kejriwal, whom they found to be more down-to-earth. 


To site an instance, Modi wore a pinstripe bandhgala suit with his name embroidered all over it during his talks with United States President Barack Obama in Hyderabad House that was not taken in a positive light by many. It only widened the gap between Modi and Delhiites. 


For Delhi voters, the polls turned out to be more of ‘arrogance versus humility’ than BJP versus AAP. Even the popular Modi wave could not withstand Kejriwal’s innovative campaigning style.


Kejriwal’s ground level and door-to-door campaigning, outright refusal to VIP culture and the basic needs of Bijli, Sadak aur Paani in the list of agendas were enough for Delhi voters to forgive him of his sudden surrender on previous occasion. 


The AAP began its campaigning way back in November last year and declared most of its candidates by early December.


Contrarily, BJP’s election campaign kicked off as late as January 10, with Prime Minister Modi holding a public meeting at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan. Besides, the party took months to announce its candidates, especially the chief ministerial candidate, until the time of polls actually arrived. 


With the result, the party was left with a little time for campaigning, even though huge money was spent to that end. This is something equivalent to underrating the significance of state elections, hence a major blunder on part of the BJP. 


In an attempt to give a tough completion to the likes of Kejriwal, BJP announced Kiran Bedi, former IPS officer, as its chief ministerial candidate, again a blunder. Bedi, who at one point in time appeared to be a smart move on part of the BJP, eventually turned out to be a political suicide for the party.


The inexperience of an experienced former cop took a heavy toll on a party that was already a victim of its own errors. 


No doubt Bedi comes with an experience of 40 years in administration, but politics is a different ball game altogether. Her clean image, no-nonsense approach and recent participation in anti-corruption movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare could not help her anyway to make her presence felt in the political arena.


Just like a child who grows up in a hygiene environment struggles with immunity on a dirty playground, Bedi with a clean background struggled to find her feet in dirty politics. She could barely manage to attract any crowd at her rallies and failed to receive a strong support from Delhiites. 


BJP’s decision to nominate Bedi as CM candidate was opposed tooth and nail within the party itself. The BJP workers even protested outside the BJP office in Delhi questioning the nomination of what they termed as a ‘parachute CM’. The result was thus expected—an embarrassing defeat for BJP. 


Delhiites had other reasons too not to vote for the BJP. During the few election rallies it addressed, BJP did not talk about the basic civic issues Delhi is faced with, especially the issues related to the lower middle class, which AAP is focussed on.


Even prior to the polls, BJP played a zilch role in addressing the civic issues in Delhi, even though the capital was under the central rule for as long as eight months. 


The biggest mistake of the BJP was to make scathing personal attacks on Kejriwal, which Delhi’s young voter population could not take. In an election rally, Modi went to the extent of calling Kejriwal “an anarchist, who should join the Naxals.”


The voters did not expect the Prime Minister to use such derogatory language. In nutshell, Delhiites have been angry with the BJP. And this anger led to the wipe-out of the party in Delhi. 


AAP has also had a strong backing of Muslim voters, even though the party maintained that it was against any sort of caste and communal politics.


Nonetheless, this time around, the Congress lost its Muslim support base to AAP especially after the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari appealed to Muslims of Delhi to vote for AAP citing "grave threat to the community from communal forces.”


The rise of a party focussed on addressing the issues of a common man is believed to be the rise of the common man. While Delhiites have yet again pinned their hopes on AAP, it’s time for the later to deliver for the betterment of the state. And for BJP, let them give up their arrogance and connect with the common man. 


(The author teaches at department of Mass Communication and Multimedia Production, Government College for Women. She can be mailed at mrabianoor@yahoo.co.in)