For the BJP, to call the results disappointing would be something of an understatement. They are catastrophic. The party has paid dearly for its inability to craft a suitable national platform at a time when—as the Congress’s pan-Indian success makes clear—people were yearning for one. The BJP is reaping the crop of five wasted years. Since 2004, despite a series of impressive victories in state elections, there has been no significant upgrade in the party’s all-India hardware and software. The faces are the same, the rhetoric often as tired.
The one innovative idea the party did come up with in the 2009 election—redeeming Indian black money from banking havens and using it for rural development—had an appeal limited to editorial pages. Most ordinary people found it too esoteric, and introduced too late in the day, to influence voting decisions. The upshot is, the BJP finds itself completely out of sync with the way India is thinking. Two successive defeats mean there is a serious and growing disconnect between India’s emergent energies and concerns, and the party. This should put the fear of god into BJP sympathisers. It indicates internal stagnation; unchecked, it could lead to irreversible paralysis.