BJP begins post-mortem of its performance of bypoll elections

Amid intense debate over the BJP’s poor show in by-elections yesterday, the ruling party, faced with crucial elections in the next few months, has begun a post mortem of its performance.

Sources said a preliminary assessment shows that the indifference of local leaders whose relatives were denied ticket may have cost the party at least four seats in Uttar Pradesh and two in Rajasthan.

In results announced yesterday, the BJP lost eight out of 11 seats that that it had held along with an ally, to the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, and three out of four to the Congress in Rajasthan.

Just four months ago, the BJP had swept both states in the national elections and the top leadership is in a huddle to ensure it makes fixes in time for crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana next month.

Party leaders have reportedly received several complaints about rebellion or just plain indifference of leaders during the campaign due to disagreements over candidacy. In Nighasan, Balha and Thakurdawar in Uttar Pradesh, local lawmakers reportedly wanted their brothers, uncles or others to contest. The party said no, and lost to the Samajwadi Party there.

Charkhari, also in UP, is a seat earlier held by Union Minister Uma Bharti, who contested and won the Lok Sabha elections in May. Ms Bharti did not campaign in Charkhari seemingly because she was not consulted on the BJP candidate fielded from there. The party lost the seat.

The Samajwadi Party even managed to win Rohaniya, which is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi. The mother of an MP from the BJP’s ally, Apna Dal, was fielded from there.

In Rajasthan, where the BJP had also won a three-fourths majority in state elections less than a year ago, the party finds that in Nasirabad and in Weir, which it lost, sitting lawmakers had demanded ticket for their family members, which were denied.

The big loss – of seat and face – was Surajgarh where Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia fielded her aide Digambar Singh as the party candidate. A local BJP leader contested as a rebel, causing a split in votes and a BJP defeat.