It seems the BJP will end second-best to the AAP in the Delhi assembly election on February 7. The critics of Narendra Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah both inside the party and outside have begun to feel elated about the reality check after the saffron party swept a number of elections beginning in December 2013. The loss in Delhi election marks the end of the Modi wave, the general mood is suggesting.
But does it really mean so for Modi?
BJP certainly made a mess of Delhi poll
It can't be denied that the BJP made a mess of Delhi. It is difficult to believe how the Modi-Shah duo failed to produce the same magic in a comparatively small battleground like Delhi after registering massive victories in difficult states like Utter Pradesh and Bihar during the Lok Sabha election and Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand in the assembly elections held in the recent past.
The party had even swept Delhi during the general election by winning all the seven seats while the AAP was seen nowhere.
BJP waited to see Kejriwal regain his lost ground
The way Kejriwal regained his lost ground in Delhi after making a sudden departure from the CM's office a year ago suggests how inefficiently did the BJP handle the Delhi assembly election this time.
The saffron party's biggest goof-up was that it showed little interest in going to the polls after sweeping the Lok Sabha election and allowed the AAP to capitalise on its hesitation.
Secondly, the projection of Kiran Bedi as a counter to Kejriwal did not encourage either the rift-ridden Delhi unit of the BJP nor the general voters and even the projection came far too late.
Thirdly, the BJP went overboard in targetting Kejriwal and his party this time. Mobilising the entire BJP machinery (both leaders and cadre) to counter Kejriwal did not serve the purpose very well. Had the BJP targetted the Congress which had ruled 15 years till 2013, it could have competed better with the AAP.
Forty-nine days were too short for any anti-incumbency wave to grow against Kejriwal and it was the AAP which earned more sympathy when the BJP went all-out against it.
The instances of attacks on minority communities and the goof-up on northeastern people in Delhi also played their parts in the BJP's debacle.
But yet it's not the end of Modi, BJP can't win every election till the next LS poll
But having said all this, there is little reason to believe that it is the end of the Modi phenomenon. We can not really expect the BJP to win each and every election till 2019 when Modi will go to the people for a fresh mandate for politics, like the game of cricket, is a great leveller too.
Modi-Shah learned from Delhi's case how elections vary from region to region in India
Delhi was a challenge that both Modi and Shah had difficulties in tackling and given the fact that both these men are outsiders to the circles of the national capital, one would not be surprised to see them failing to get the pulse of the politics of class that has become dominant there.
The familiar formula of majority-minority politics would not work in Delhi as it would in UP or Bihar and the new leadership of the BJP needs to take this lesson from the first debacle of 2015.
Congress had done badly in 1967, yet Indira Gandhi dominated the national politics
In 1967, the Congress under the new leadership of Indira Gandhi had faced its worst experience till then when it had lost in a number of states. But that didn't stop Indira Gandhi to dominate the national politics even with a splinter party for another decade.
She also played her part in advancing the general election to 1971 to mark a break between the central and state elections so that the issues are disconnected. For Modi, that legacy of Indira Gandhi could prove to be a blessing.
2015 isn't an election year like 2014 and that will give the BJP enough time to do homework
The year 2015 is not an election year (only Bihar will go to the poll this year apart from Delhi) and that will give the BJP leadership ample time to focus on its mistakes made in Delhi. Another comprehensive win (the ongoing crisis in Bihar will keep the BJP hopeful about forming the first government led by itself there) and the Modi-Shah combination will again look a formidable one.
The BJP undoubtedly goofed up in Delhi this time but it can't win every election
Those expressing a kind of pessimism about Modi's leadership with a loss or two are actually suspecting the viability of the unique democracy in India. There is a limit to the wave of homogenisation in this country, whether it is cultural or political, and the Modi wave is no exception.
Yes, like the wins Modi & Shah will have to burden the responsibility for the losses as well
The time has not yet come to pass a verdict on Modi's leadership. But yes, as he and Shah have been the biggest recipients of the credit for the BJP's back-to-back successes in various states, it is also them who will have to burden the responsibility for the losses.
Apart from that, the loss in Delhi is not a big deal.