The outcome of the Delhi assembly election of 2015 is a repetition of history. Trends showing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), nine months after winning the Lok Sabha election. This time as well, the BJP faced its worst debacle nine months after Narendra Modi stormed to power in Delhi. [BJP's loss doesn't mean end of Modi's run]
Are there specific reasons for this similarity?
Yes, there are three specific reasons.
First, the over-confidence. The BJP, following its series of the election victories since December 2013 including the Lok Sabha poll where it bagged an absolute majority, was clearly complacent while approaching the Delhi election.
It was difficult to understand the reason why the saffron party waited for eternity for the Delhi polls even after emerging the single-largest party in the 2013 election and winning all seats during the general election.
It gave ample time to Arvind Kejriwal to regain the ground he had lost between February 14 and May 16 last year. In February 1998, the NDA led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to power after winning 254 seats.
The BJP had won six out of seven parliamentary seats in Delhi and 52 of the 70 assembly segments. The BJP was in power in Delhi at that time. But yet, the two governments of the same party reportedly did little to improve its prospects in the state election due later that year. The result was a massive fall in the party's vote-share compared to the Lok Sabha election.
Second, the dangerous intra-party feud remained the constant in both 1998 and 2015. In fact, it is something that has always plagued Delhi politics. The Congress had reportedly lost the 1993 Delhi poll due to factionalism and it was the BJP which was at the receiving end five years later.
Sushma Swaraj, the outgoing chief minister of Delhi in 1998, said it was not the opposition but the BJP's internal fight which had seriously hampered its poll prospects.
She indirectly targetted the feud between two BJP leaders Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma (both former chief ministers) and appealed to the national leadership of the party to take strong disciplinary actions against those who acted against the party from within. Here is another parallel between 2015 and 1998.
Like Kiran Bedi, Sushma Swaraj too was hit by serious party feud in 1998
Just like former IPS officer Kiran Bedi was brought in as the chief ministerial candidate in the face of serious feuds in the party this time, Swaraj was brought in just before the polls in 1998 to check the growing factionalism. But just like what has happened this time, the BJP's fortune was no different 17 years ago.
Third, issues. One of the main reasons for Swaraj government's loss in the 1998 election was the rising prices of essential commodities, especially onions.
This time, even though petrol prices went down this time, but the issue of image-building played a crucial role this time and the BJP fared disastrously on that count.
While Kejriwal mended his image much more smartly, the BJP's spearheads did it equally awfully. Bedi's joining the BJP proved to be suicidal for herself as well as the party and Modi's taking on Kejriwal directly didn't do any good either. The BJP lost the politics of faith and with that Delhi.