Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Why BJP lost the Lok Sabha election: Afzal Guru, Amarnath Yatra, Varun Gandhi and emotive issues failed

The BJP is in a state of shock after the Congress' victory in the general elections. LK Advani must be wondering what went wrong with his strategy.

The party leaders also seem to be in an introspective mode and MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's comment that 'hanging Afzal Guru could not be an election issue' appears quite a valid observation.

Harping on Afzal Guru
The BJP should have sensed it early. We are all patriots but we don't need a dose of patriotism on a daily basis. Even electorate realises that the target is not Guru, but the Congress. The voters perhaps feels that yes Guru has to be sent to gallows but that's not the only issue facing this country.

The BJP unfortunately didn't learn. It tried to raise emotive issues that have lost favour with the citizens. The party and its allied organisations did their best to send the valley into communal flames by politicising the Amarnath Yatra.

Defending 'Hindu terrorism'
But it failed miserably and couldn't win a single seat. A person of the stature of Lord Meghnad Desai wrote in Indian Express criticising the BJP for justifying 'Hindu terrorism' to counter 'Muslim terrorism'. He was referring to LK Advani's softness towards Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

She is the alleged mastermind of the Malegaon blast. Indeed, the BJP has to decide whether it has to fashion itself as a right-wing party or an extreme Hindutva fanatic group having links to not just splinter groups like Ram Sene but also terrorist organisations like Abhinav Bharat.

Flirting with Fascism
Though it has to keep its umbilical chord with the mother organisation--Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other lumpen affiliates of the Parivar like VHP and Bajrang Dal, the BJP remains a party that loves to flirt with fascism.

Either it's the anti-Christian violence in Orissa or the anti-Muslim speeches of Varun Ganddhi, the party always appears to be behaving like a fundamentalist fringe outfit than a responsible national political party.

Voter has no time for communal nonsense
Varun Gandhi won the Pilibhit constituency but the polarisation didn't take place. Even hardliners like Vinay Katiyar had to face humiliating defeat. This is a signal to the party that the new age voter has no time for the communal nonsense.

He is too smart to understand that vitriol and violence against minorities are aimed at consolidating the Hindu vote bank against Muslims. Instilling fear of marauding Muslim mobs or Christian missionaries can't arouse the youths any more.

No clear vision on economy, nuclear-deal
In fact, the BJP should have understood that India has changed a lot. A party that talks about Article 370, Terrorism and Cow slaughter is not a party for the 21st century India. BJP remains confused about every other issue that matters to modern Indian--either rural folk or urban voter.

During the economic meltdown, it had no strategy or plans to offer. On Nuclear deal, it remained at sea and had no clear vision. Agriculture, employment and health are the sectors that need work but BJP remains a prisoner of its ideology.

Hailing Modi backfired
The businessmen did hail Modi as the future Prime Minister. But this didn't go down well with the Indian society that remains largely secular, plural and inclusive. The strategy to present Modi as 'future PM', seems to have backfired.

The Gujarat communal carnage is something which it not easily forgettable. It's a blot on the face of secular India. The violence had brought shame to us. While the Congress has learnt its lesson by seeking apology from Sikhs for the 1984 riots, BJP is yet to follow the suit.

It would have been graceful had the BJP apologised for the large scale of deaths and destruction that had taken place during the post-Godhra communal riots. However, far from that, BJP is seen championing the cause of lumpen elements like Pramod Muthalik whose goons attack women.

Will the BJP change? Let's wait and watch.

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