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BJP needs to think beyond Modi wave after Delhi debacle

The BJP which had won the Lok Sabha election followed by Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and impressive show in Jammu & Kashmir has lost the plot in Delhi election. The saffron party which was heavily relying on the Modi wave to sweep Delhi polls found itself on the backfoot after being upstaged by AAP. The party could manage to win only 3 seats and doesn’t even become eligible for the opposition leader post. After the Delhi debacle people are raising questions whether the Modi wave has really faded? When Modi had campaigned for the Delhi polls in Jantar Mantar it received a lukewarm response from the voters forcing him to rethink about his campaign strategy.

Later the saffron party announced Kiran Bedi as the Chief Ministerial candidate at the last moment. Bedi’s elevation as CM candidate upset the party cadre workers who felt that they were being sidelined. Many of them lost interest in campaigning for election as infighting began within the party. The campaign was poorly managed with many Delhi BJP leaders not getting the importance. BJP also paid heavy price for attacking AAP and bringing it in limelight.

The party had committed a blunder by offering too much time to AAP for regrouping itself. If the saffron party had contested election six months after the Lok Sabha polls result could have been different as it was riding high after sweeping the general assembly polls. On the other hand, AAP had been preparing for the election right from December. The party had focussed on door to door campaigns to connect with voters. After the Delhi poll debacle everyone started blaming Kiran Bedi for the defeat. Bedi, failed to retain a seat represented by Union Minister Harsh Vardhan since 1993 and considered to be the party’s safest.

Thus Modi will have to do a serious rethink after the Delhi election verdict. Last year Modi was compared against Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Today he is measured against himself. The PM will have to bridge the gap between what he says and what he delivers. It’s easier to deliver a speech and attract crowds but it’s a huge challenge to get the work done within a specific time frame. Why could not he sense the mood of voters even though he was right there in Delhi?

Modi will have to do away with the centralisation of powers and empower his ministers. He can control by holding them accountable for their promises and performance. He will have to strengthen the party by building new leaders in the state. BJP will have to reach out to the regional parties and have alliance with them in those states where the party doesn’t have major presence. Modi will also strengthen the party at grassroots level for connecting with people from the hinterland.

The right way to reinvent NaMo is to do two things: first, accept direct responsibility for the Delhi defeat, and work on true devolution of powers – in his own ministry, in his party. If one says Delhi BJP unit was not united then it’s also Modi’s failure to infuse motivation and excitement among party leaders and cadres. Indian voters always trust in giving huge mandate. But when they think that any party or a leader is overconfident and taking voters for granted, then voters also give shock treatment. Finally, Modi will have to do so serious course correction after the Delhi poll results to prepare for future elections.

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