BJP's Delhi loss revives the memory of 2004 'India Shining' debacle

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The result of the 2015 Delhi election is bound to create some curiosity in the minds of those who have a knack of following a bit of electoral history. The BJP's humiliating loss to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in an election that was labelled as a prestige battle had shocked the saffron supporters and it revived the memory of the 2004 Lok Sabha election. [Delhi debacle: 3 reasons why 1998 was repeated in 2015]

In 2004, a confident BJP had brought the election ahead

In 2004, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre decided to advance the general election to April and May after the BJP performed well in three assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh the previous year.


But 'India Shining' failed to deliver

The party leadership had thought of reaping the benefits of a favourable voter's mood and called for a premature dissolution of the 13th Lok Sabha. The campaigning that followed was equally intense as the BJP decided to leave no stones unturned in its effort to return to power. Its 'India Shining' campaign was particularly significant. The media started projecting the NDA's return to power.

But May 13, 2004, had something else on offer. The BJP and its machinery completely failed to fathom the under-current and it was admitted by the top leadership that they had failed to feel the pulse of the voters.

Patriarch LK Advani even admitted that slogan like 'India Shining' was wrong and the party was over-confident about the outcome. It was also said that the effects of Gujarat riots of February 2002 had its toll on the party's prospects in the 2004 Lok Sabha election.

The NDA finished with 189 seats (BJP got 138, down from 182 seats in 1999) while the Congress-led UPA got 225 seats.

In 2004, BJP's India Shining failed to deliver even as the election was advanced

This time also, the BJP found itself at the receiving end and not many had expected that things could have gone so bad in Delhi. The AAP's 95.7 per cent success in the Delhi election proved to be a huge reality check for the BJP which has been running away with success in almost state polls in the last 13 months.

Did BJP fail to gauge the mood this time as well?

Did the BJP fail to gauge the mood this time as well? Was the party banking too much on the Modi wave and thought it would help it overcome serious factionalism? Even the media failed to predict the results in its pre-poll survey.[5 reasons why BJP lost the Delhi poll]

[Exit polls got it wrong in Delhi]

The BJP must find out answers to these questions. For in the coming days, Narendra Modi's party will have to fight anti-incumbency unlike in 2014 when it was a comparatively easier job of taking on a tainted regime.

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