NEW DELHI :
Nearly nine months after winning all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in the 2019 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is heading for a loss in Delhi. Trends at noon by the Election Commission (EC) show that the BJP is leading in only 12 seats.
There is some consolation for the BJP leadership as the party has managed to increase its vote share to nearly 39%, a gain of 7 percentage points from 2015. The bigger problem for the national ruling party is that Delhi will be the third assembly election that it could lose after coming to power with a bigger mandate in May 2019.
In the last nine months, BJP lost Jharkhand and was unable to retain Maharashtra because of the trouble with its 30-year old ally Shiv Sena.
“The election was going to be difficult and BJP leadership was aware of it. But the big question before the party leadership was if we are able to increase our vote share and in the process and create space for BJP in the state assembly. BJP may be heading for a loss but the party has been able to create a place of its own in the national capital," said a senior leader of BJP from Delhi.
Senior leaders of the party point out that BJP had won the municipal elections and retained its dominance in 2019 Lok Sabha polls when it won all 7 seats again, a repeat of its 2014 general elections. The disappointment in BJP is also significant because the party has been out of power in Delhi for the past 22 years.
“The party needs to solve this problem of not being able to convert its gains in Delhi in assembly elections," said the BJP leader adding that the party had deployed at least 350 leaders along with candidates to campaign for BJP. Along with its own leaders, BJP had also asked Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to campaign for its candidates and also invited Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and president of Janata Dal (United) to campaign for its candidates in Delhi.
Another trouble for the BJP is that the party had contested the assembly polls under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on national issues instead of local ones. The party's campaign focused mainly on protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, and implementation of National Population Register (NPR).
“If we look at the 2019 Lok Sabha results, Congress had performed better than AAP, so we had expected that the vote distribution between Congress and AAP would help BJP in assembly elections also. But it seems the contest became only between BJP and AAP," the BJP leader added.
Senior leaders of the party also believe that the BJP needs to solve its leadership problem in Delhi because there are at least five to six senior leaders who believe they could be the chief ministerial candidate of the party.
“There is no problem in aspiration and ambition for a post in politics, but the problem is with a divided leadership, the party organisation is also divided at the grass root level. First BJP made union minister Harsh Vardhan the CM candidate in 2013, then Kiran Bedi in 2015 and this time there was no CM candidate but Manoj Tiwari was party unit’s president," the BJP leader added.