Delhi turns its back on BJP - Analysis

There will be many analyses of BJP's performance in the Delhi election. From the Economist to Sagarika Ghose, professional "secularists" are shouting, with not a little bit of glee, that it is a result of BJP's "deviation from its development message" and Narendra Modi's “failure to curb the Hindu extremist fringe" and so on. All this gratuitous advice of "not deviating" from development often comes from those that are rooting for the BJP to fail. Rather, given the deep roots of the BJP in Delhi, we should examine the failure of the BJP to get its core cadre in Delhi excited.

Simply put, a key ingredient to BJP's loss and victory is often the enthusiasm of the BJP workers, and also the Sangh cadre. An influential sangh worker remarked to me recently that they did not work to install the Modi government simply for "development"; civilizational issues were core to the enthusiasm of the workers. Over the last few weeks, I had occasion to meet various people directly or indirectly associated with Hindu causes across the country and there is a general feeling of disappointment with the Modi government on that account. This does not make for an enthused and motivated cadre.

The excuse that the party is working towards a Rajya Sabha majority first does not hold much water. Many decisions are executive and don't need legislative approval. The UPA acted far more swiftly to advance its ideological agenda with far fewer numbers. One senior academic told me that UPA appointees are still continuing in key decision making positions across the country, and when the UPA had come to power in 2004 it had removed NDA appointees and installed its own people within 4 weeks.  The censor board case is a clear example. The UPA had dismissed the highly qualified Anupam Kher and installed ideological puppets with no film experience.  Yet the BJP inexplicably continued with this board even after their term had expired till they resigned in a big drama. This passivity is mystifying. Eight months on, no more excuses need to be made for it.

This attitude has also been seen in the handling of the media. For decades the Congress corrupted the Delhi media into compliance with a combination of perks, outright payments, privileged "access" and personal favors, and the fear of being left out of the gravy train. Modi appears to have taken a more hands-off approach, but the media darbaris appear at sea without a master to control them and throw them scraps. Those raised on dependency cannot be weaned off overnight. They can only start rooting for a different gravy train as they did in the case of AAP.

The other secularist story-line is that statements from Sadhvi Niranjana Jyoti or Sakshi Maharaj derailed the Modi government agenda. In a large party, you cannot muzzle everyone's opinion. Sadhvi Niranjana's remarks were also distorted; the corrupt media darbaris will manufacture dissent. From Indira Gandhi on, there is a long history of the Delhi media bending and crawling. There needs to be a proactive media management strategy beyond sending mostly inarticulate spokespersons on television. This is an area to learn from the Congress. The dismantling of the toxic "secular" academic citadel needs to be part of this strategy.


Courtesy Niti Central 


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