Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Outlook.com

Did Hindutva Overdrive Cost BJP Delhi Elections? Party Unlikely To Amend Path As Elections In Bihar, Bengal Loom

Over 6,500 public meetings and campaigning by senior leaders like Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and Yogi Adityanath didn't influence Delhi voters but the BJP is unlikely to change its Hindutva track

Did Hindutva Overdrive Cost BJP Delhi Elections? Party Unlikely To Amend Path As Elections In Bihar, Bengal Loom
Did Hindutva Overdrive Cost BJP Delhi Elections? Party Unlikely To Amend Path As Elections In Bihar, Bengal Loom Photograph by Getty Images

The BJP hired a Mumbai-based agency to do a survey as the party launched its Delhi campaign. The constituency-wise survey gave the party eight seats. That’s when Amit Shah decided to take charge and turned the campaign into a saffron blitzkrieg. The party held 6,577 public meetings, including 52 roadshows—the bulk of them in the last 13 days as Shah went door-to-door, handing out pamphlets. The focus was on the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest with PM Narendra Modi calling it a “prayog” (experiment) to divide the country. Party chief J.P. Nadda addressed 40 meetings. Union ministers such as Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad also joined the campaign with 250 MPs, while UP CM Yogi Adityanath and young leaders like Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma delivered vitriolic speeches. A mid-­campaign review by the Mumbai-based agency gave 22-25 seats to the BJP, suggesting the strategy seemed to be working, but the final tally on February 11 exactly matched the earlier prediction of eight seats. The aggressive Hindutva pitch, however, is unlikely to go.

With crucial elections due in Bihar later this year, and in West Bengal and Assam next year, all the leaders Outlook spoke to claim they won’t give up on any of the issues that the BJP raised during the campaign. They attribute the rise in the BJP’s voteshare in Delhi from around 32 to 40 per cent to the consolidation that happened in the campaign’s last leg. “There may be some calibration, but the issues are here to stay,” says a party general secretary. “The party won six of its eight seats from east and north-east Delhi, which have the maximum number of migrant voters. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens do have some resonance.”

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