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Sunday, May 17, 2009

"They won all the battles, we had the best songs"*

[* A line from a Communist song from the Spanish Civil War]

Apologies for not writing yesterday. I was busy pontificating on TV and finishing my columns which have appeared in today's Times of India and Pioneer. Then I was out late at night commiserating with some friends in the BJP. My only bit of good news was the spectacular third-term victory of Naveen Patnaik in Orissa. I telephoned him and congratulated him for rewriting the rules of electoral politics.

Anyway, to come back to Election 2009, let me present some blunt home truths:

  • This was a positive vote for the Congress, including Sonia and Rahul.
  • The contribution of Manmohan Singh to the victory was significant. In hindsight, he was the unquestioned winner of the "weak" versus "strong" debate.
  • It was Manmohan's perceived decency that mattered to the electorate.
  • The under-30 youth vote went overwhelmingly in favour of the Congress. The Congress reinvented itself as a party where youth matters; the BJP was seen as hidebound.
  • The media helped project Congress as wholesome; the BJP was seen as ugly. Varun Gandhi may have won Pilibhit but he lost the BJP lakhs of votes nationally.
  • The middle class vote deserted the BJP and gave Congress the extra cutting edge--just see the margins of victory in Delhi.
  • The loan waiver and NREGA helped blunt possible anti-incumbency.
  • People voted by and large on national lines. This was not an aggregate of state elections. There was a national swing in favour of the Congress.
  • In UP, we are seeing the restoration of the Congress coalition which was broken in 1991. Both BJP and BSP are likely to be casualties.

What are the specific lessons for the BJP?

  • The party must recognise that this was a political failure and not merely a defeat caused by management shortcomings.
  • The so-called "Hindu" appeal may work in specific areas (Pilibhit, Mangalore, Azamgarh, Kandhamal, et al) but it is perceived as divisive elsewhere.
  • The ugly face of Hindu extremism puts off the middle ground.
  • There is no such thing as a Hindu consciousness that exists today. The nationalist middle ground has shifted to the Congress.
  • The BJP leadership is seen as completely unresponsive to youth aspirations and modernity.
  • There is a tendency of the BJP to preach to the committed and not reach outwards.
  • In caste terms, we are witnessing a definite drift of the upper castes to the Congress.
  • The OBCs are now the bedrock of the BJP but this has not been formally acknowledged.
  • The RSS-isation of the BJP organisation post-2005 has created serious distortions.
  • The integrity quotient of the BJP is now at par with that of the Congress. This is a problem that the moral guardians of the party have wilfully turned a blind eye to.

What should the BJP do immediately?

  • Recognise the magnitude of defeat and not live in denial (as happened in 2004).
  • There has to be some visible demonstration of the fact that the party has responded to the message. Advani was right to step down and the Parliamentary Board was wrong to reject it. There is still a very important role for Advani but his position is that of a mentor.
  • There has to be a revamp of most state parties. Young, dynamic MLAs and MPs must be given organisational responsibilities.
  • The RSS-non-RSS divide in the party must be bridged. Those who never attended shakhas can't be treated as second-class members.
  • The BJP must focus on the policy debates in the coming two years. Interventions in Parliament must be given due importance. The Leaders of Opposition in both Houses must be chosen accordingly.
  • The party needs to project a modern, cosmopolitan face as national president to woo back the middle classes. What is needed is a picture of wholesome sobriety. The sooner this is done the better.
  • A culture of frankness and debate has to return to the party. The miscalculations resulting from telling the leadership what it wanted to hear were colossal.
  • Modi has to add the OBC tag to his appeal. His pronouncements must become more measured. He has to work on his national acceptability.
  • Stringent norms of fund collection should be set. The private war chests have caused havoc to the functioning of the party.

Of course, there are many more issues that have to be thrashed out. But these are just some initial reactions to a silent wave for the Congress that few of us predicted.

Already I have seen some diagnosis of the debacle on the web. I can only gather that the temptation to fall back on old certitudes has proved irresistible to a few. Which is why I cited the lines from the Spanish Civil War song in the heading.

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96 comments:

Rambhakat said...

Swapan da

I know the next battle may be quite some time from now. Like everyone else I was stunned. This was not a battle of ideologies but one of issues. We lost it this time but we should work hard and win next time. 5 years will fly in no time. Hopefully we would not be found wanting.

Anonymous said...

If there was only ONE thing the BJP could do now it would be this - get over this Modi fixation immediately, and put in a brand new 'moderate' leader of opposition who can groom himself over the next 5 years. My vote goes to Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Advani's brief sound bytes on successors too point in that direction.

Modi could one day become a cabinet minister of Commerce or something - but anything beyond that would be impossible to sell to the Indian voter.

Anonymous said...

I would say it was fortuitous that Advani was asked to stay on. Advani should step down when the succession is settled. And when he steps down, he should acknowledge the party was wrong about some issues (e.g. Kandahar). That will neutralize the Congress's ability to use the same issue to pester the new leader.

Balaji said...

Swapan Da,

I agree with your assessment that the nationalist middle ground has shifted to the Congress. The urban middle class has completely rejected BJP. We need to immediately do a course correction and reject extremist elements within ourselves.

In this direction, I can't think of a better way to tell the people of this country that BJP accepts and will abide by their verdict, than to sever ties with Shiv Sena before the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly election.

The most important feature of this election for me is the revival of the Congress party in UP. We cannot continue to associate ourselves with the two Senas which beat up poor taxi drivers from UP/Bihar and yet hope to survive in UP.

If possible, please sign the following petition urging BJP to sever ties with Sena and fight the coming Maharashtra assembly election alone.

http://www.petitiononline.com/mh09elec/

Vote4development said...

BJP failure Reason

1) Communal members like Modi and Varun (sack them both, loss in gujarat but profit nationwide)
2) Attack on honest person like MMS
3) No good leaders in BJP, absence of Shri Vajpayee
4) Reliance on Hindutva, mandir(nobody cares about it, when people have more important issues like job loss, price rise, survival)

Dont make the mistake of projecting MODI as PM. BJP will go below 100 in that case.

For BJP to survive, sack modi, change its ideology, focus on poor, youth without any bias on caste, religion.

My personal belief is that Congress will control India for the next 3-4 elections.

Anonymous said...

Swapan Da,
Ram Guha mentioned yesterday in a CNN-IBN programme that Patnaik is not a good administrator at all. Only his clean image helped him get back to power. Do you agree?

marty said...

Swapan,

Excellent analysis. One thing I learnt is this - if I am ruling a state and there is an anti-incumbency factor - I will field another political party through some "friends" and give them seats in specific areas where anti-incumbency is highest. That way, in a three cornered fight, the new party will get a lot of "anti-incumbency" votes, making the main opposition party the loser by not getting these votes and triumphing again in the split verdict. (Lessons from T. Nadu & elsewhere).

Good governance pays. (Define good governance - it matters differently to different villages, towns). A Vinod Khanna running around everywhere but to the Parliament does not make a good "scene".

Hindutva pays if it is followed up with sweet talk but hard actions. Not a divisive agenda - but a line where Muslims are good but Deoband Muslims are bad for the country. Many Muslims are against this Deoban / Wahabbi influence in their lives. Give facts on this, but later on. A recent analysis on terrorists lodged in Afghanistan showed that 90% of them are from Deoband madrassas. So are the "nodes" from Indian Mujahideen and SIMI. By shifting BJP's focus from all Muslims (as it is perceived, and I know it is not), it will clarify it is against the terror spewing madrassas of Deoband - hence Deobandi Muslims. Everyone else mingles and takes India forward (mostly do).

Do a qualitative research on the mother brand of BJP and use brand identity model of Kapferer and using the laddering effect to see where it is now as against 5 - 10 years back. Understand the need gaps and move on. The feedback from ground is important - so is a professional research into brand equity (mother brand).

UP has to be given special work on. You cannot run it through coalitions - BJP has to win 25 seats from there - minimum. It has to show it has the guts and the cadre to bring this about.

Nitish, at best, looks like an uncomfortable partner - the way he seems to suggest if his state govt can be saved, he is willing to shift (not in so many words) - but the unsaid was loud enough.

Whom you prop as the leader of opposition will play an important role - my choice Arun Jaitley.

The public mudslinging should not show a divided face - Sudhanshu Mittal et al - left a bad taste.

The freeing of terrorists was a bad move - very bad move. It cant be undone - but it should never be repeated. For a party that tries to showcase the hard nationalistic face, that was a pretty lousy thing to do. And Swapan, what if tomorrow, someone comes with evidence that a "few" people in BJP even made money in the exchange of prisoners. That would be a "fatal" blow.

Keep up the tirade on black money. Try to bring a linkage of the Gandhi family billions in Swiss accounts to "screwed up and obsolete" defense deals which left India susceptible to attacks from weaker countries. That will surely hurt the Congress bad.

iamfordemocracy said...

1

Siva said...

Well Swapan, everyone associated with the BJP screwed up big time - u included. All your 'phase analyses' were dreadfully wrong. I think we were all looking at a worst case scenario of 140 for the BJP, not 116.

Forget the self-congratulatory messages Rajdeep puts up on his chanel - no one, but no one, predicted or noticed the pro-congress wave this election saw. And it is nothing short of a wave.

The Congress ofcourse would love to say that this is due to Rahul Gandhi. I think Manmohan Singh's image of a clean administrator who concentrates on the hard work of governing won them tons of votes. And Sonia's 'inner voice' renunciation helped her achieve the demi-god status. Rahul Gandhi has definitely helped bring in the youth vote.

But I think your analysis is very superficial. You need to go deeper to analyse this loss.

1) This was an election about issues and who could lead the country into the future- true, and I STILL believe the BJP did better on this count. Who raised the issue of black money? Who released an infrastructure vision? Who raised the issue of terrorist attacks and how to deal with them? Who had a well defined IT vision? The Congress raised the Gandhi family nose sizes and Rahul's post poll alignments. The Congress did not raise a substantial debate on ANY issues facing the country. Please do not fall for the liberal media interpretation of the results yesterday. Even if the BJP lost big time, the BJP was the party raising all the issues.
2) I find it strange that the party whose candidate had a much better looking and more dynamic & interactive website, had an IT & infrastructure vision, had a dedicated 'Friends of BJP' etc lost heavily in urban areas. Sagarika and Arnab might blame it all on Varun Gandhi - I don't think so. Yes, he cost us a fair bit. But I don't think he can be blamed for everything.

I think Arun Jaitley's argument that the possibility of the horror of a 3rd front govt drove people to the Congress especially in AP, TN, WB, Kerala is a valid point. In the other states, the Congress was perceived as the party which could get more allies and form a government. I think this vote above all was a vote for stability and clean governance - both embodied by MMS.

All in all, I think the reasons for BJPs defeat are far deeper than Sagarika & Arnab are capable of delving. I hope you will be able to do so.

As far as youth vote goes, the BJP should clearly define who their prospective youth leaders are. And Varun should not be one of them, for the moment atleast. The Congress has clearly defined its youth leaders, though all of them are sons of old leaders. The party should actively start a youth drive to match the Congress, else we will be left by the wayside. I don't think the fact that we had a 80 year old PM candidate cost us youth votes.

Above all, the party should recover from its defeat quickly and get down to being a healthy opposition, taking on the govt strongly inside and outside parliament. The BJP took 2 years to recover last time. This time, we should recover before the 1st session of Parliament.

We went to the people asking them to judge the performance of the Congress in govt. But frankly, was our performance as an opposition any better? We just interrupted in debates, held shouting matches....not something which inspires confidence. I hope SUshmaji in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha become LOP, they can lead us in the intellectual debates.

Advani and Rajnath singh should be gently eased out. Rajnath Singh must go back to UP and build the party base there. Anyone else can take over as Party President, but it must be someone articulate and who is a good administrator. Any ideas?

I think the party should show the people it is the party of governance, the party interested only in the future direction and policies the country takes. That is easier said than done, but the party needs to reinvent itself that way. With the RSS, it should drop the lunatic religious right, and take up the position of the economic and social right. That is not a violent change of ideology. We do not need a violent change of ideology.

Coming to national leaders. The sad part of Indian democracy is that since we are so devided among state, regional, linguistic lines, it is impossible to become truly national leaders purely by performance. Vajpayee and Advani became national leaders due to emergency and Rath Yatra, extremely emotive issues. Today, what can say Modi do to become a national leader? Even Mayawati is hoping to become a national leader thru the emotive issue of having a Dalit PM. The Gandhi's however are born national leaders. I have no doubt that most people will consider a non-politician like Priyanka Gandhi more of a national leader than Narendra Modi. What on earth can we do about it? Rahul Gandhi will in all probability not take up a Ministerial post. He is a born national leader. Disgusting, but what do you do about it?

All in all, there is a lot of analysis for the BJP to do and a minor, yes minor, course correction is needed. We are not going to be helped by the media. Like they say, Timaeo Danios et Dona Ferentes, "Beware of Greeks bearing Gifts". We should beware of advice on where the party should go coming from the likes of Arnab and Sagarika.

Rahul is clearly looking to a 272 for the Congress in 2014, a clear path to the PMs chair for him. If we do not regroup, if we cannot recapture power after 10 year by then, it would be a shame.

Sorry for the very very long comment. But like everyone else, I am very disappointed with the results, and want to see the party take the right step forward to recapture the hearts of the people in the future.

BlessedMeek said...

If Murli Manohar Joshi OR Jaswant Singh are chosen as the Leader of the Opposition, then the 'generational shift' does not take place. Same old faces. Mr Joshi was part of Morarjee Desai's parliamentary group 32 years ago!

David Cameron was elected conservative party leader in 2005 when he was 36 years old. That's reinventing the party! The conservatives are leading in all opinion polls.

Dinesh PC said...

Swapan-da,

1) Chiranjeevi's PRP broke TDP-TRS vote in Andhra.

2) Vijaykanth's DMDK broke AIADMK-alliance vote in Tamil Nadu.

3) Raj Thackeray's MNS broke SS-BJP alliance vote in Maharashtra.

However, I wonder why Chiranjeevi and Vijaykanth did not break Congress votes! That Raj Thackeray played traunt in Maharashtra's 12 seats is in no doubt.

Maybe 1 and 2 are not valid reasons but 3 definitely is.

Regards

NR said...

Your assesment is spot on, and the recommendation is correct. something many have been repeatedly telling, but it was shouted out. The leadership needs to be inspiring. there is near unanimity in the web on what you have said barring the few exceptions you have rightly found. Everyone knows who they want as the next president of BJP but will the rss-non rss divide allow it is the question.

It is a fact that the youth factor of rahul, his stunts of visiting and staying in the huts breaking security cordon have paid off.

BJP needs to get it complete organisation in states redone and youngsters given chance.

Internal democracy is hopefully implemented.

BJP needs to play by media and ensure it has nothing to attack BJP. Blunt parliament seesions wasting and ugly behaviour there needs to be stopped. Mp's need to be told to take deabtes seriously and also their consti. Annual MP performance commmitte needs to be set rather than realizing at end anti incumbency of MP is huge, it will better this way, to reduce or nullify it.

When we dont have wherewithal to have alternate media or get some existing ones to do it, we have to play by media and win it at their own game.

I hope party listens to such voices like yours and dont make even supporters loose hope.

This time they cannot afford to sleep like they did last time and a message has to be sent to nation, we take your message seriously and want to respond to it.

It is also time serious attention is given to TN and ties with Sena broken and also demand dy cm from Akalis or let the govt fall. The punjab state leadership must not be made to ill treated by akalis and they should be allowed to hold their respect. If sikhs vote for congress, they will also vote for BJP. BJP can actively woo them. Long term and short term goals need to be set and in areas where short term may be in opposition to long term, long term needs to be the favoured.

neelakantan said...

Very well said. Both in your Pioneer article and in this post above.

The next 5 years have to be devoted by each of the state governments where BJP rules to associate BJP with "development". Karnataka is getting there - Bangalores roads have seen superb improvement - but much much more needs to be done.

BJP has to figure out a way to get into states like AP, Kerala, TN, Orissa etc. - each time one or two such states tilt the balance. A pan national presence must mean pan national presence. Organization builders anybody?

Third, national media is simply anti BJP. But over the next 5 years, the internet will proliferate even more. How can the party make use of this and get over the negativity of the media is worth a thought.

Know the verity said...

Varun Gandhi may have won Pilibhit but he lost the BJP lakhs of votes nationally.
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This is expected from a drawing room strategist. If BJP follows ur advise it'll end up losing its remaining space. If u don't trust me then given the reign of U.P to Varun and Yogi, give them free hand and see the result. Pls do this experiment. We have done so many experiments why not this one also ? I'm not saying shun development agenda utterly but we should mix Hindutva, pro poor promises like free rice, rations, Tvs etc cleverly. The day u successfully do that u'll be winner. BTW can u tell me why we r not recovering in U.P ? 10 seats last time 10 seats this time.

ansu said...

Dear Swapan Da,
Like you as a BJP supporter, I am not very happy that BJP lost. However, for country I feel good. Perhaps this was the best choice country had this time. BJP lost its way long back and 2009 was just a outcome of it. I hope it will rise from 2009 in 2014. I am not a good writer like you, but I do have some thoughts about BJP revival and mistakes. I have posted them at
https://ansumali.wordpress.com/
May I get your feedback on that! Thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

swapan,

What is the possibility of congress involving in dirty tactics of rigging the election? I strongly suspect that of all reasons.

Because, the congress was losing continuously since 2004 except for few. And the rahul (alias raul vinci) factor which doesnt work earlier, cannot all of a sudden work now..

Secondly, there was heavy anti-incumbency against congress. price rise was a major issue that was visible at the ground level. The weak position of congress was evident from the fact how RJD and mulayam treated it.
In UP, the poor show by the poster boy Rahul, exposed his hollowness. and within two years, we cannot assume, he has mobilised all youths.

I again insist on the angle of tampering EVMs at selective locations. They might have done atleast in 50 selected constituency all over india.

Also, look at the factor on how chidambaram won at sivaganga constituency. till the last round he was trailing, and all of a sudden, recounting was done and he was declared as winner.

In short, this not an genuine victory.. rather an articial and manipulated victory for congress.

Know the verity said...

The so-called "Hindu" appeal may work in specific areas (Pilibhit, Mangalore, Azamgarh, Kandhamal, et al) but it is perceived as divisive elsewhere.
--------------------------------------------
Even MMS and Raj Thackeray r also perceived as divisive, media keeps bashing him, one Hindi channel calls him hitler, but the born leader Raj doesn't give two cent to media. He refers to Hindi electronic media as Bihari media b'coz most of the top anchors and journos belongs to Bihar. What I'm trying to say is that if ur capable of communicating with the public and if u've support for the thing ur saying then u need not to feat abt anything. For e.g. take the media propaganda regarding Gujarat riot despite their best efforts public believe riot happened b'coz Muslim mob burned alive Hindu pilgrimage and Modi has no role in it. FYI : We lost all the 8 urban middle class Mumbai LS seats b'coz MMS had played the spoiler. Wonder why ppl voted for divisive ppl!!

Jagatramka said...

Please Please a big no no to Jaswant Singh as an option for leader of opposition. This old man wants to be a Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP and also a leader of opposition. But he should not be entertained. When he speaks on TV, people switch over to some other channel. And what he speaks no body can understand.Please say "No" to Kandhar fame Jaswant Singh as a leader of opposition.

Indian psephologist said...

It is tempting to blame Modi 9 years after Gujrat riots for this election debacle of BJP. It is also easy to forget election victories of Modi in Gujrat and that the BJP's election performance was better 4 years after Gujrat election.
Fact remains that BJP has lost its credibility amongst Hindus, youths and middle class because people percieve it as a poor version of Congress. They think that BJP talks about Ram Mandir, terrorists, illegal immigrants only during election and does nothing when in power.
What, I suggest is:
1) India is now a nation of youths: Get your credibility amongst youth. Use young upright leaders for communicating with youths
2) BJP is way behind congress and even some regional parties in having their own propoganda machinary. BJP urgently needs some mass communication media. Launch some nationalistic TV , newspapers and websites. If they do not know what and how to do propoganda then learn quickly from Congress!
3) Get back your credibility: Do what you preach or don't preach something you cannot do.

Sundar said...

Swapan da, thank you for your insightful analysis. As a BJP supporter, I believe there is much learning to take away from this campaign. The party will come back, and it will come back stronger and wiser.

Voters need to be viewed as customers and a vote as a purchase. A lot of insights from the world of marketing apply. Every BJP strategist needs to have read his or her Kotler! All party workers need to be trained on basic marketing principles. Since you are privy to the upper echelons of the party, you are in a position to comment on whether this thinking actually happens.

For instance, using segmentation, targeting, and positioning, the BJP needs to disseminate through its workers a message tailored specifically for each voter segment according to the psychographic and demographic variables.

Questions to answer:

SEGMENTATION:
1) Who is our target voter? What is their demographic and psychographic profile?
Among them, who is likely to actually vote?
The BJP needs to distinguish between supporters and voters who are inclined to vote, and those who aren't besides just focusing on the existing base it wants to retain, and the new base it wishes to attract. Which of these is the BJP most likely to win over? Which of these need more convincing?

TARGETING:
2) What is the best way of reaching the target voter segments?
Is it directly (go it alone strategy) or through a "channel" partner (i.e. alliance partner) if we do not have a strong presence in that market (state). Can we reach the voter through the Net or via radio / TV, face to face meetings? How do we interact with them? What are the touchpoints of our target market? THe answer to the question will guide effort and the building of a presence in particular states or alliances.

POSITIONING:
3) What issues are vote triggers?
What are their felt deprivations? Are we mistaking wants for these needs? What is the decision process of the target voter? How do they view us with respect to competitors? On what market research do we base this view on? What mechanism do we have for receiving and capturing these weak and strong signals before, during and after a campaign?

4) What evidence can we provide for our beliefs? Is it just a party leader's gut feel or is it based on something more substantive? What is perceived to be credible by a voter? What can be condensed into a soundbyte? Into an "elevator pitch?" What is appropriate for that medium? The medium is the message. How do we ensure consistency and unity of the message?

5) How do our various forms of communication take the voter along that journey from awareness, to knowledge, preference, liking, and to a purchase decision? What is the noise? How can we equip the voter with a filter to drown out the noise? How can we strike a deal with those who would otherwise carve up our base?

To paraphrase Drucker, success in an election campaign, like a marketing campaign, is determined by the success of the consumer/voter, not the producer of the campaign. So the whole election strategy should be seen from the voter's point of view. The campaign should deliver satisfaction to the base, and some real value for the new voter. If that new voter thinks short term, then a short-term sop is required. If they think long-term, they will value the infrastructure projects.

Sorry for writing this long note. I did not have time to write a short one! :)

neo_reloaded said...

the simplest reason i can think of for BJP defeat is..
the BJP won in 120 constituencies and second in 110 so it has a presence in only 230 constituencies..as against the congress lead/win in 200 and second in 150 constituencies, presence in 350..

http://eciresults.nic.in/

this election the congress had a better strike rate(58%) hence it won..but BJP with 52% strike rate was a distant second..

on the other hand BJP cant even come close to 200 unless we strike at 85+ percent (political impossibility unless there is a wave like vajpayee wave or some emotive issue like ram mandir)

So for the BJP to harbor any hopes for the future it must grow organizationally to new geographical regions..

the folly of this national election was than there was only one pan india national party i.e INC that was contesting…

unless the BJP conquers more ground its gonna remain a humongous regional party and never will be a national party to reckon with…

so this aint the end of right wing nationalism..its not the loss of the ideology as the media wants us to believe..we just have to grow more and strike better..

also i could not be more anguished in my desire to see a right wing media outlet in television and print if possible in all local languages...

Know the verity said...

There is no such thing as a Hindu consciousness that exists today. The nationalist middle ground has shifted to the Congress.

---------------------------------------------
I think this defeat has made u so pessimistic that u r not able to see states like Gujarat and Karnataka. The point is why Hindu conscious voters should vote for u ? Our party has given up Hindutva Swapan da so no point in barking up the wrong tree. Part itself is responsible for the dilution of ideology. To be honest we have lost credibility on every idealogical issue. I don't see light at the end of the tunnel. I'm ready to bet in 2014 Congress will come to power on its own. Keep "reinventing" and learning from the mistakes and defeats. We'll sit in the opposition perpetually.

Sundar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
iamfordemocracy said...

Swapanda,

I have one simple question regarding BJP. It is about BJPs' promises vis-a-vis BJP's results. BJP is dubbed as a Hindu Nationalistic party, but I feel it has NEVER DONE anything for the benefit of Hindus (distinct from doing some good things for the country, which BJP no doubt did). Swapanda, could you please write an article listing what BJP did for Hindus or how Advani's raising of Hindu identity issue helped Hindus (rather than BJP)?

robin said...

Swapan,
BJp lost because it always starts with a negative datum line of 14 percent minority votes wheras congress starts with a plus 10 percent atleast of minority votes.
There is a hatred for BJP by minorities.This cant change at all whatever concillatory policies adopted.
The only way is to have majority vote bank similar to minority vote bank.
With due respects to you ,the defeat was also due to split of anti votes and not due to ideals and spirit of the BJP
Those who split the anti votes were reported to have been funded by the ruling party.In Tamilnadu it was DMDK which is reported to have helped DMK for an astronomical price. In Maharastra it was MNS which was reportedly funded by Pawar . In Maharashtra the BJP and Sena lost around 12 seats and in Tamil Nadu AIADMk a likely NDA partner lost many seats.In Andhra Chiranjeevi spoit the party for another possible ally Telugu Desam
In UP Muslims voted tactically for the best candidate to rout BJP. In Kasargod Kerala and Nagercoil in Tamilnadu Christians voted tactically to down the BJP.
This will be the pattern in future.We wont get a single miniority vote.So this half pussy footing on Hindu cause wont work
There were equal number of youth for BJP also similar to congress.In all websites which are frequented by youth BJP was a hit.
In first past the post system you can win by splitting opposition votes. This is the real game changer in this elections.
Now BJP should follow the same policy.
In BJP ruled states which will go to elections set up and prop vote splitters to split congress votes.
As far as UP is concerned only aggressive Hindutva will work against a determined minority which will never vote for BJP.

Venkat said...

I think it will be a great help to the BJP supporter if you can elaborate on each of these points - like 'RSS-isation of BJP post 2005'. Will you please elaborate on this?

Also the OBC-isation of BJP - this sounds jarring because the OBC stalwards in Hindi heartland have done really badly. And also because BJP's leadership in most states is already OBC (Yeddy, Modi etc) though they do not play that OBC card like a Karunanidhi or Mulayam or Laloo do. I will prefer that they do not play their OBC identity. That may only further affect BJP's chances.

Please do elaborate on these points. Please do continue posting your views and feedback to the BJP. Your blog can also be a place for those really interested in BJP's revival (not the NRI jingoistic crowd chanting for Varun but the domestic ones, who go out to vote for BJP and get disappointed).

I think both the party president and leader of opposition positions should go to somebody articulative in both english and Hindi - not only Hindi. They must be not more than 50, because I fear there is a really long battle ahead - we may not regain any ground in 2014 also. This pair of leaders now should be able to lead us for atleast another 15 years. I think we should also not disturb existing chief ministers - it is very important that they continue in their states and run them well in the next five years. Moving them to delhi may destroy our bases in those states (MP, Chat. etc).

And these two leaders (party president and Leader of opposition) should also be people used to the rough of electoral politics.

I think Ananth Kumar of bangalore south can be a excellent choice now for leader of opposition - he has been winning elections since 96, about 50 now, and does not have any negative image. He will be a fresh face in the national scene since he has managed a low profile so far. And from the south, he can decisively change the BJP's image as a 'north party' -which it is anyway not now, its biggest tally of 19 came from Karnataka.

Venkat said...

People like Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu will destroy the BJP entirely if positions like party president are handed to them. We need leaders who face the people, and win elections in these posts.

It was sad to see Jaitley try to gloat over the debacle of CBN, Jaya etc on TV. He was saying that these allies will now have to come back. Why? what is the vote share of BJP in TN and andhra for these parties to consider touching BJP even by a bargepole? BJP crossed 1 lakh vote only in two of the 13 seats in TN, and one is Kanyakumari - due to polarisation and RSS stepping in. In all other places they finished less than 50000 including in south chennai. Why will jaya touch them even? and did Jaitley even tabulate the votes in AP -they lost even secunderabad by a huge margin. why will CBN come to them?

Sack these superficial strategists. Give it to people who fight elections and win. Ofcourse, avoid rable rousers like Varun even if they win elections.

R said...

I agree with most of you suggestions

There is no point in cribbing about RSS. BJP should be smart enough to make use of the organizational power of RSS. And RSS leaders should encourage its cadres to come out and be a part of the democratic process.

Ajay said...

Swapan, I've respect your views, and are a regular leader of your articles.

But this one takes the cake for being a arm-chair pundit sermon.

As I commented on off stumped, Hindutva is a cultural aspect of life,and development the material aspect.

We need both

I agree that we need young faces that can connect with today's generation,

But abandoning Hndutva, is taking the very core that binds BJP cadres together.

Go to the ground, meet the grass root level workers, what brings them to BJP is its nationalist and Hindutva stand.

Take that away, and you take away BJP core supporters.

The beautiful people will never sleep with BJP, no matter how moderate you appear.

If one does does not stand by one's principles, why does one call it one's principle in the first place.

Ram Srinivasan said...

A lot of people I know (Middle / Upper Class), are being turned off by the divisive policies & lumpen elements in BJP/front organisations. Second, when I attended the Friends of the BJP meeting in Hyderabad, I was turned off by Arun Shourie going hammer & tongs on Congress. I think BJP needs to find a moderate leader in the mould of Vajpayee, & articulate a positive vision for India.

Ajay said...

Swapan, completely disappointed that such statements are coming from you.

I expected mainstream pseudo-secular media to start such smear campaigns,

But expected nationalists to take a more objective view.

I have no words for my disappointment,

parasuram81 said...

I was pondering over the fact that u very rightly mentioned abt the personal attacks vis-a-vis weak vs strong was stupid.First sack that un-worthy strategist Sudheendra Kulkarni.First blunder was "Jinnah Secular" as a speech writer.Then this "Obama" style campaign.What rubbish! Doesnt he know that India is not U.S.So the prelude to the debacle was this disastrous choice of a U.S type campaign and subsequent divergence of core issues.No wonder the BJP is becoming a party of cotery ala Congress.shame on all of them!

Ranjith said...

I understand your emotional reaction. But if you sit back and think, didn't we err in managing our expectations ?

How did you expect BJP to win a national election even when they have no serious presence in states like Andhra, TN, Orissa, Bengal and UP ?

It is incorrect to say youth did not support BJP. What do you mean by this ? Youngsters in Karnataka, Gujarat, MP, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand etc wholeheartedly supported BJP.

The only common trend i find is that, wherever BJP had strong and dynamic local leaders, BJP won. So what BJP should do is simple. Expand its base to other states.

doubtinggaurav said...

SwapanDa,

Two minor quibbles

1. I am not sure it is a national vote, to me it still seems like aggregation of regional votes. However I do agree that middle class was disenchanted with BJP.

2. Possibly Varun Gandhi was a net liability but I am not sure whether the magnitude was lakhs of votes. Now most probably you meant the perfect storm created by media however I am sure even without Varun fiasco media will dig up something different.

Sreejith said...

Dear Swapan,
While reading through your advices to BJP, seems like these are advices to become another congress party, and wrest the power in delhi. The basic question is, Was the BJP founded to win the power? Will another "party" wresting power at Delhi solve all of our problems?
1. When we a need a leader and party above cast politics, Modi adding OBC tag may help him politically, but does it serve larger interests of our country? Remember, Founders of BJP (or Jansangh) dreamed of a nationalistic party above such petty cast, religious, and regionalistic interests.
2.Your advices seems to be pragmatic to win next election. You even suggest it to change it's ideological position, and reinvent it as another party which majority of Indians will support. The bigger question is, Should a party or organization shelve their ideology for the sake of power, just because majority denounce it? or should it debate on it's ideology publicly, and create awareness among the people?
2. Youth argument seems to be non-sense. Are there no youths in Karnataka, Gujarath, Jharkhand, Chathigarh?
3. What we need is not a national leader but many regional leaders, who can interact to people of each state in their mother tongue. BJP should work hard and develop leaders like Raman singh, Modi, Yedyurappa or Shivarajsigh chouhan in states of AP, TN, Kerala, Bengal and Maharastra.

harish said...

Swapan Da,
I really dont agree on the Varun issue. It was the BJP that screwed up royally on the varun issue. No point blaming him. They were so damn confused during the whole episode.

Firstly BJP should stop trying to woo the muslims. The muslims will never vote the BJP. It's an exercise in waste. It will also alienate core supporters.

There are many ways through which issues of national concern can be raised, but the BJP spokespersons always indulge in plain rhetoric. They should come out in open with facts. Facts from the planning commission website and various sources. When a simple guy like me can sit at home browse through the websites and clearly see the pathetic performance of UPA, why cant the BJP spokesperson's do so?
I hope people like Nalin Kohli replace Ravi shankar prasad.

I also hope people who can be bullied easily like sudheendra kulkarni as well not to attend media discussions. Its simply not their cup of tea. This is what the youth of India watch today!! Youth wont vote for people who cut a sorry figure.

Please tell Mr. Arun jaitely to stop all the rhetoric during tv debates and focus on facts.

Lets have people like Arun shourie on TV, who will not indulge in plain rhetoric during debates but they base their argument on facts.

zoomindianmedia said...

Swapan writes "The ugly face of Hindu extremism puts off the middle ground.
There is no such thing as a Hindu consciousness that exists today. The nationalist middle ground has shifted to the Congress."

Swapanda

Issue is not this. Even if BJP does nothing remotely Hindu, BJP will continue to be depicted in a negative way.

Mangaloreans are not remotely communal. We know very well what the corrupt Indian media did with the town and its people.

Rather than sidestepping Hindutva, this is an issue that needs to be fought in the mindspace. In fact there is no other choice.

Check out an alternate analysis at

zoomindianmedia.wordpress.com

Swabhimaan said...

Delhi voting pattern: The Congress had the first mover's advantage ..this was the party that brought development to Delhi..so it is really tough for BJP to get Delhi back. People don't really vote for candidates...or even policies..they vote for visible signs of development. The Congress has systematically targeted even the slum-dwellers and unauthorized colonies, for example in East Delhi. BJP didn't do this during its reign. Practically speaking, the BJP might have to wait for a change in guard in Delhi or some big goof-up by the Congress to get Delhi back. I can tell you for sure there are many youngsters who don't think enough before casting their vote. They go by every word TOI publishes or what they watch on Times Now. Such newspapers and channels haven't done any favour to the BJP in the last 5 years. I have heard statements from Post-Graduates and even Professionals in support of Rahul Gandhi. But they had no answer when I asked them why! Media management is something the BJP must do. Infighting is its biggest bane. Although dynasty is not good in principle, it seems to be working for the Congress. Why can't BJP conduct internal elections to select its leaders & candidates ? That is fair and doesn't leave much room for heartburn. People who cannot work even with their own party members will be left out and this should work for strengthening the organization.

Swabhimaan said...

Modi should not be sacked. This would be the biggest blunder of all times. He has appeal even among people who voted for the Congress this time..(I am talking about Delhi here). How wide is that support base needs to be assessed.

Oldtimer said...

No disrespect meant, but how come you are able to see so very well with such certainty right after the results were announced as to what went wrong for the BJP, but didn't have this insight barely 24 hours earlier?

Perhaps you are right, but.... just _how_ do you know that Manmohan's perceived decency and the Congress's seeming youthfulness won the vote?

My point is that causality is simply being assumed. Maybe the BJP needs to engage pollsters again -- a different and better company this time -- to ascertain from the field as to why those who switched their vote to Congress did so.

I think it is wrong to find scapegoats (eg: Varun) without first receiving input from the field and evaluating it with an open-mind. In the absence of that, how do we know that BJP could not have managed even those 10 UP seats but for the Varun episode?

Also, on the point of your "lessons for the BJP":

I don't disagree with you that extremism -- and that includes Hindu extremism -- puts off the middle ground. But if ever in its entire BJP could be accused of projecting extremism, it was in that period leading up to and right after Babri Masjid, when it publicly allied with VHP; yet that was the period that saw the party grow. Why? The reason, I believe, is that the electorate regarded RJBM as a legitimate issue of political activism and therefore refused to see "Hindu extremism" in it. What has changed since then?

I'd include, in "lessons for BJP", its pathetic failure to see where the media denigration of not just itself but the issues it stood for was leading up to. I expect that in the next five years, MMS government AND the media will work together to create a "conducive" atmopshere to please the Obama administration on the Kashmir issue. All for a good cause, you know, to defeat Taliban. I fear that not many will be opposing redrawing boundaries by then, because such opposition, in the stuidos of government's TV channels (I am talking of the media here, not just doordarshan) will be labeled 'Hindu extremism'.

Anonymous said...

I think that BJP's path back to power is not very difficult, but BJP has to do take difficult decisions. The first one is to sacrifice Modi. The second one is to avoid MNS; this flirtation with MNS will prove disastrous in North India. Firm up the alliance with JD(U) and use JD(U) to reach out to other regional parties like TDP and AADMK. If the party is a serious contender in only 350 seats, then the path to 270 becomes much more difficult.

Swabhimaan said...

A Hindu/Hindutva consciousness can be developed over a period of time..this will bring down resistance to the BJP..the problem is that people don't know and understand BJP's ideology. However, the Sangh Parivar also needs to take some corrective steps. When any Hindu is killed or any member of the Sangh is killed by the minorities, why don't they play it up and let the BJP take up the issue? This way they can avoid the negative image that they create for themselves and also prove their point. The sympathy of the public will be with them. Retaliatory violence which affects women and children blocks people's minds and then they do not even want to know and understand what the RSS and VHP do and why. The RSS and VHP seriously need to consider this. I have talked to people and explained to them the meaning of Hindutva, why RSS exists, their ideology. The same RSS and BJP haters now admire them but they only have a problem with riots. The day the RSS and BJP change their approach, Hindutva will win along with developmental issues.

Anonymous said...

Dear Swapan Da I am a big time fan of yours from ahmedabad.i really like the way you present your views very clearly and practically rather than pseudo-idealistic people like Rajdip,sagarika,arnab...(the list of such pseudo-secular media personnel is far long)

I am still not able to understand as to what vested interest the media has in being so tilted towards congress?

When modi's good governance wins him around 117 seats in Gujarat,the victory is accredited to sonia gandhi's 'Maut Ka Saudagar' comment.how the media can assume that voter in gujarat is effete and cannot make a judgement and simple votes coz he is carried away by the comment made.people have brains and they vote for the work and not the words.

Swapan Da i am keen to meet you if possible after all you belong to the most endangered species of india i.e Genuine Columnist who very franly speak up their mind.my email is chhayank@ymail.com

Soham said...

"The voters have been very generous to an incumbent government which allowed too many things to drift in the past five years. But the season for excuses ended on Saturday afternoon. "

Golden Words

Incognito said...

It's a well known fact that 'when facing threats, the people swing to the right.'
After 26/11, I really thought there was no way the UPA would get a second term. But apparently, the survivors/estranged were mostly NRIs/foreigners or simply electorally disconnected. (Inference: Ppl don't care for life.)
The BJP manifesto covered security, governance and corruption. What else would the middle class/youth in India ask for?
India needs a Patriot Act, a dedicated+more versatile Homeland Security, stricter anti-corruption laws and sky-standards of governance. Non of which is that the UPA can deliver. (The waiver packages, education programmes are unmentioned obviouses.)
The BJP had all it's agendas spot-on. The only unfavourable parameter was the media-political complex. Congress is the people's choice, so be it.

zoomindianmedia said...

Swapanda

Jaitley we thought was responsible for UP since 2007 elections. In this case can we assert he has performed subpar.

Kiran R said...

Swapan, I think it is the likes of you and Chandan Mitra who are the problem for the BJP - Abandoning the core = loosing votes

Here is my recipe:
1. Advani step down and gracefully retire. Go to Mathura or Kashi on a pilgrimage and never make public appearances like Vajpayee is doing now
2. Rajnath SIngh should resign and go back to UP.Rajnath SIngh - he should first concentrate on UP - he is not at all BJP President material
2. Sack Leaders who cannot communicate savvily but are in top positions - Sack Venkaiah Naidu from party - everytime he speaks on TV, BJP loses votes - let him win an election first in AP before being secreatary or any other rubbish
3. Advani should resign from Gandhinagar LS seat - Modi to replace him as Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha - Arun Jaitley to be BJP president
4. Maneka Gandhi - to potray her as the prospective CM of UP - make her head of UP unit for revival. Varun to be deputy in charge of UP.
5. Talk and act like a nationalist party. BJP is not anti-minority - don't try to be pseudo-secular -
6. Boycott CNN-IBN and NDTV - have a rule that if a BJP MP/MLA comes on a TV show or speaks to CNN-IBN/NDTV, he is expelled after 3 warnings.

Bottomline:
If you can't get power in 2014, get it in 2019 or in 2024. Get an absolute majority that can fulfil the core issues. Till then shout in opposition.

BJP grew in opposition from 2 in 1984 to 87 in 1989 to 116 in 1991 to 161 in 1996 to 176 in 1998 to 178 in 1999.
What happened after compromising on Hindutva.
137 in 2004 and 121 in 2009.

If this continues it will be 87 in 2014

Get back the nationalist agenda

venkat said...

>> This was not an aggregate of state elections. There was a national swing in favour of the Congress

'Aggregate of state elections' is the patented invention of Arun Jaitley, a line he has been parrotting since 2004. They even got a *psephologist* now. should not Jaitley pay the price?

But to say there was a national swing in favor of congress is very wrong. If you are using UP results for this, see the vote percentages in UP - BSP 27%, SP 23%, INC 18.3% and BJP 17.5%. The EC site does not list RLD's percentage separately, add atleast another 2-3%.

UP is clearly tactical voting by a certain community. Obvious now that Mulayam Singh saw this happening and hence decided to consolidate OBC votes including Kalyan Singh. He did not have to fear about losing muslim vote anymore because he saw that it already shifted out to INC.

There are two sides to the story here - a nationalistic party like BJP can not treat an election as aggregate of state elections and then hope CBN and Jaya to bring in the deficit. They should have ran a campaign all five years since 2004, but they were obviously caught up in Jaitley's rhetoric of elections being 'aggregates' of municipal elections.

But a special interest party like INC can treat national elections as an aggregate of state elections. With 18% vote, INC can win 25 seats in UP. But BJP only 15. Does that point you to the obvious tactical voting special interest? Now INC does not have to worry about a blatantly communal agenda (first right on resources) at all - any reaction to such an agenda in karnataka and gujarat gets easily cancelled out, and then they get more with tactical voting in TN, AP, UP, Maharashtra..

INC has to only cater to special interest groups now - vocal christian groups like in Karnataka/TN that issue appeals to vote, Muslim groups that indulge in tactical voting regardless of any other issues, OBC reservations in central institutions, loan waiver regardless of fiscal cost.

Let us see if now BJP comes out of the Jaitley rhetoric of the last 5 years.

M. Patil said...

Swapanda,

As several posters here have noted, BJP needs media presence. No matter what upcomming BJP leaders do the ELM (English Language Mafia/Media) will chew them out. Instead of appeasing the media they should have a tit for tat response through their media. That would blunt media mischeif and stop demonization of viable Hindu leaders.

Instead of being perpetually on the defensive BJP should go on the offensive with the help of their media. NDTV, CNN-IBN are nothing but dynasty's stooges.

Malavika

Blessedmeek said...

Taking Responsibility

When the Mumbai blasts took place, BJP stridently demanded the PM. CM, Home Minister.... should resign. The congress did get three resignations. Resigning from office is a graceful way of accepting responsibility.

Will ther BJP now practice what it preaches?

Deepak said...

Swapanda

The magnitude of this defeat is amazing. There is no doubt that Rahul Gandhi will be PM and his butter-doesn't-melt-in-my-mouth attitude will definitely win him youth vote. The BJP has been dealt a crippling blow and they cannot dream of coming back to power even after 10 years.

What should they do:
1) Hindutva, Modi and Varun will win hard-core voters, but unfortunately, they dont matter, the people who matter are the middle-class who is not interested in Hindutva. I have met a lot of people who were fervent BJP supporters and who now say that they are tired of Mandir
2) Advaniji should be allowed to retire gracefully
3) Modi and Varun should be sidelined and all the 'buddas' like Rajnath, Jaswant and Joshi should not be given importantce
4) Youth is the key, someone who appeals to the youth and has mass base is required for the BJP; the only one who fits the bill is Sushma Swaraj (but she should tone down on her anti-Gandhi tirade)
5) The BJP should bury Hindutva time-being and re-invent itself as a centre-of-right party

If this is not done, then BJP can NEVER hope to recover. Remember, Modi could get only one more seat, MP is breached, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan are gone. Chattisgrah win is because of Raman Singh and negative impact of Jogi and Karnataka win is because of weakness of Congress. IF JDS and Congress get together in Karnataka, that will be big trouble. So, BJP should stop gloating and get down to business. Most important : For the next one year, they should not criticise Congress or disrupt parliament, let them allow Congress to mess up.

Anonymous said...

Swapan,

What you are essentially arguing is for BJP to become more like Kangress. In that case, why have BJP at all, and why would anyone vote for BJP if it becomes just like the Kangress? Either BJP must go back to its Hindutva roots or disband.

Teasrini said...

Swapanda,

I am a great admirer of your writing. However, I found this analysis flawed. I have put up my own analysis in my blog: http://teasrini.blogspot.com/2009/05/notes-on-indias-elections.html

Please don't consider this a shameless plug for my blog. I usually post only on US and global economic and financial topics and am not even that active.

Regards
Srinivas

Anonymous said...

The Orissa defeat is a clear pointer that Hindutva will not work and today's voter is influenced by the media and doesn't want a rabid right-wing party. Modi could get only one extra seat and similarly the Congress sweep in Mumbai and Delhi all point out that the middle class and youth are tired of Hindutva. I am a supporter of Hindutva, but unfortunately people like me are in a minority, if BJP wants to survive, they have to give up Hindutva and project moderate leaders.

Santosh said...

although this might sound like a knee jerk reaction but i feel is BJP should impose a self ban from putting anyone of its spoke persons into any debates that the current media team runs. They whould hold press conferences and answer questions ... run full fledged websites with all the latest information .. put MPs thoughts on them .. invide public discussion .. put your visions and run your propagation of information through internet and press conferences but say a big no to any invitation to debates...

This will allow most of the news channels to become doordarshan .. as they would not get the stuff to generate the debates with all their participents representing the same side of coin .. And run the marketing campaigns for BJP sponsered sites which propagate their side of story ..

Playing the game the way Cong is playing would always be a loose situation for BJP .. as they have a head start .. shifting the entire communication channel on internet would suit BJP more as with the internet explosion more and more people specially the young generation relying on net.

This in one stroke make BJP gain mind share among the young crowd and make many of the news channels irrelevent

Know the verity said...

The first one is to sacrifice Modi
----------------------------------------

R u a party admirer ? Or u want to see the end of this party ? Modi is the last hope of this party. We lost b'coz there was "undercurrent" for MMS as I stated in my earlier comments. These guys and top leadership might not have sensed this defeat but I was damn sure abt it. Go through my earlier comments. I even predicted that BJP will lose in its citadels also (I said this particularly abt M.P). And my prediction proves true on 16 th May 2009. Problem with these Delhi base leaders is that they don't know the art of gauging public mood. They trust exit polls and local leaders who most often hide the exact picture.

Coming back to Modi I want to say he is one leader for whom there is huge undercurrent and huge support. And this is the reason party office received massive nos of application from candidates for his rallies. Never undermine Modi's charisma no matter what the sickular media say. Just back him without worrying abt allies and the media. I'm 100 percent sure victory will be ours.

Aryan said...

Bring in the Merchant Of Death, he will fix the BJP for sure!

Namo Namah!

Indian Nationalist said...

First thing the BJP needs to do is to kick out NON RSS congress workers in the BJP like

Swapan das gupta
Arun jaitley
Venka naidu
sushma swaraj

You guys have no electoral popularity, want to live in AC Rooms, carry swashy mobile phones and have no morality

Sanjay said...

I read your column in TOI, you said "this was nearest to a positive mandate since 1999", it was also the closest to a presidential form of election ever, though Advani lost to Manmohan Singh, we can still thank BJP.
However I don't agree with your view that in 2004 Congress didn't win but BJP lost the election due to faulty "India Shining" campaign. In fact it was a watershed election for Congress which it won on the back of an idea of "Inclusive development" instead of either purely on the back of a dynasty, or sympathy wave like all previous elections.
The unfortunate part is not that BJP lost in 2004, but it failed to diagnose why, and went to fight the next election. People did appreciate the economic development of BJP, that is why they got 147 seats, but the time had come for the idea of “Inclusive development” – the next natural step in the evolution of “IMF induced economic reforms”, which BJP did better than Congress, though Congress initiated it. BJP lost because it failed to evolve (please refer to my comments dated 15 May - “Why BJP doesn’t deserve power at center” on your previous post titled “A technical critique of Exit Polls”) And the most unfortunate part is that BJP will go to fight the next election too without evolving at all, i.e. if it survives self destruction till then.

Venkat said...

An appeal - there are a lot of suggestions and thinking here that may drift over time if not channelised. I have a suggestion, I am hoping it will be seen by others and we can make something out of this to turn around.

1. Set up a private internet forum (requiring login and registration to view) for *resident* BJP supporters. If we are talking about winning elections, we need to keep non-resident ones out.

2. Make this private so there can be more focus. we should not allow this to become an outpouring of public grief for three days and drift away.

3. build this forum, with the aim of having atleast one active participant from each *polling booth* in all towns and cities of India.

4. Work towards turning the vote out using this forum. Like how there are 'vote marshals' in rural areas and urban slums and certain religious groups, let this forum be the 'vote marshals' from urban middle class neighborhoods (without the 500 rupee notes and saree/liquor and communal appeals issued on the basis of religion/fatwa etc).

5. this forum can engage with BJP representatives and demand their attention to the core voter's concerns. I see a lot of hurried efforts (friendsofbjp.org , lkadvani.in forums that dont seem to be plugging into anything within the party.) To succeed, it is important to make it a private forum that has participation from the party leadership and each of the representatives. Party representatives are needed there to also ensure support to the booth level participants when they go to work.

I am sure nobody clearly understands 'urban middle class' even though there are all kinds of analysis. I know everyone in my company in the 30 age group are solid BJP supporters. They are from all over India - Assam, bengal, TN, Punjab, AP - if a crown prince is harvesting all youth vote, i dont see it happening around me. let us not readily fall for that hype.

We all registered and voted out of our own interest- not a single BJP representative came to our areas to talk to us or even give a booth-slip with electoral roll details. Ofcourse INC did not come either but it is obvious they do not want our votes.

Urban middle class vote needs to be turned out in large numbers. This apathy that lets INC to sweep with 18% vote in UP for example, can not continue. If we do not put in a sustained effort now, we will be lamenting over every single election from now, and I mean even the assembly elections where BJP is strong today.

I am hoping against hope that others will see this appeal and there will be such sustained effort.

bjpincrisis said...

Swapan da, I think a full analysis has to be carried out by the party. However a few of the points raised by you are valid.

I think that the party's campaign did not resonate very well. What is it that they were offering. Strong leadership by attacking Manmohan actually strengthened MMS's appeal.

It also seemed that like they were not very clear in articulating their vision. Yes, they had piecemeal things like ladli laxmi yojna and stuff. Btw, the issue of black money also seemed opportunistic. You cannot take up an issue like that just before elections. What kind of India is BJP looking for. That vision has to be consistently communicated and not just around elections.

The point about Arun jaitley becoming President of the party is that the President is supposed to be a mass leader which Arun Jaitley is not. Though I have to admit that I cannot see who else can take the place.

One more thing I want to highlight is that BJP has gotten it wrong with the pollsters it used. They have not been able to find out the impact of their own campaign such as the impact of attack on MMS etc.

BJP campaign of Congress being completely evil with dynasty, wealk leadership is simply not taking off. Instead of constantly attacking Congress, they have to highlight without ambiguity what they stand for and not appear opportunistic. Nuclear deal is another case in point. These are the things that are driving the middle class back to Congress.

Anonymous said...

I think more generally the BJP has to decide whether it want to steer a centre-right course and sacrifice the far right vote if necessary. Not doing so just leaves the space open for more confusion.

For example, the BJP/Shiv Sena would have won in Maharashtra if the alliance had appropriated and used the MNS policies against North Indians. That they did not do so lost them the far right vote, but they were not able to compensate by steering to the centre.

Ajay said...

Swapan, please the article linked below,

Superb analysis of what went wrong with BJP,

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/clicklit/entry/bjp-forgot-the-roadmap-delhi

bjpincrisis said...

Arun Jaitley's point about CBN and AIADMK coming back to the BJP could be that no regional party that has not associated with a national party has done well in the LS elections with the exception being Naveen Patnaik.

Even though BJP might have negligible voteshare, the fact that TDP and AIADMK allied with the left might have had an impact on their electoral fortunes.

I think that is the point Jaitley is trying to make.

Blessedmeek said...

The Election Commission website has constituency - wise results, as well as vote share charts.

http://eci.nic.in/results/frmPCWiseResult.aspx

Andhra seems to have gone to the congress by default. In all seats the TDP + PRS vote is more than the congress. But TamilNadu does not show this pattern, the winner had moe voyes than the opposition + MDMK in most seats.

In any case, how does this help the BJP which is non-existent in both states. A lot of reinenting needs to be done by the BJP, but can it do so? The next time, congress will increase seat share by taking from the BJP.

is there a method of writing to the BJP? If yes, please share it so we can all give our opinion.

sv-india said...

Hindu - RSS - VHP is old card, it hasn't and will not work in Today's India. Now, its up-to BJP how quickly they can change. They need to present themselves as Party of all class of Indian without giving importance to one person or one strong ideology.

Anonymous said...

There are two options left today for the BJP

A. ADOPT A STRONG HINDUTVA PRO RSS LINE:

Make Varun Gandhi, Rajnath Singh, Narendra modi as the default of the party and the party adopts the following guiding principles:

a. Adopt strong aggressive hindutva policy ala Varun Gandhi.
b. Does not appease muslims in any manner and actively campaigns for the protection of hindus and hindus culture.

2. ADOPT CONGRESS LIKE PRO SECULAR RIGHT WING PARTY:

a. Sack Varun Gandhi and Modi and publicly apologize to muslims for Godhra and Ayodhya.

b. Actively involve muslims in the party decision making.

The BJP has to decide between the 2 and decide soon.

The best scenario for the BJP right now is to split between 2 factions.

a. One faction is pro RSS includes Varun Gandhi, Modi , Uma Bharati, Rajnath Singh,Vedyurrappa and Murli Manohar joshi.

b. Second faction includes anti-RSS people like Swapan Das gupta, Arun jaitley, Venkiah naidu, Shivraj Chauhan, and Sushma swaraj.

This would be the best course and both should fight the elections separately and may the best man win.

If the 2 factions remain together then animosity between the 2 will continue as both are diametrically opposite and have no convergence.

My hunch is that the 2nd faction is more or less similar to the Congress line.

Anonymous said...

Whenever a right of center spokesperson goes on CNN IBN / NDTV, he should from now on begin by saying :

'Firstly, I am thankful that people like me are allowed to speak at a channel that some would call a Congress media outlet' and then proceed to speak about the issue on hand.

(This "some would call" phraseology is borrowed from Rajdeep Sardesai, who prefaces all his personal partisan opinions with "Some would call" or "Some would say" when he is blustering on one of his shows)

I hope the above is incorporated into the training of all media spokespersons of the right :-)

Pradyot Dhulipala said...

I have reasons to differ with your assessments and here they are.

1. Manmohan Singh though likeable and respectable clearly had to deffer to Sonia Gandhi on most issues. The issue had to be highlighted but was done crassly.
2. The BJP highlighted issues like the "Swiss Bank Accounts" which practically no one viewed as an issue.
3. The UPA gained from spoliers like PRP,MNS and Vijakath(in Tamil Nadu) cutting into their rivals votes.
4.The one thing that struck me in 2004 was how the Congress had given tickets to a whole bunch of young faces while the BJP stuck to those who were well past their sell by date.
5.I do not think this was a positive vote for the congress since the economy hasn't been great , there have been spectacular terrorist strikes. The ground was fertile for their removal from power.
6.The BJP essentially blew it in Rajasthan and Orissa. States like Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it had no real stakes.
7.Is this the end of the road for BJP's pro-hindutva politics? I would think so, mostly because it will be hard for it to attract allies in states where it does not have a major presence.

bjpincrisis said...

Swapanda, One more thing I wanted to mention that BJP being in the opposition for the last 5 years has made no impact on the electorate on what it stands for and how it is a better alternative. Instead of just focusing on Congress shortcomings they have to spell out their stand consistently and not just before elections.

Anonymous said...

The Indian people deserve the Congress. It has been fooling them for the last 60 plus years and making unkept promises. India is far behind China and East Asia. But like our Bollywood, Indians like escapism. The BJP will be always be the underdog because it has a very formidable establishment lined up against it inc;luding a very biased media. But anyway thanks to people like Advani, Vajpayee, Nanaji Deshmukh for trying their best. Indians deserve what they got.

Anonymous said...

if you saying BJP did a mistake in pub culture i am sorry i am from bangalore and BSY did few things right !!! and now in blore-3 seats and mlore- win does say few things plus i am reliably informed that renuka's opponent in distant AP also took on renuka by saying she supports drinking remember one election NTR had won with prohibition so its sensitive issue with woman( i hope you raise this point in some TV show) so being overty liberal is not needed since those liberals will never vote a right wing party also he arrested ram sena goons before V-day and took wind ofcongress goons sails actually everyone knew that DKS's goons were planning large scale violence like what he did post rajkumar 's death to embrass the Govt
But of course how and ever will BJP come to power in centre in million dollar question honestly

Raj said...

Like the Democrats in 2004, the BJP was just not destined to win this time and its ok too. Look at what the Democrats did. They chose a bright young african-american and when he own the nomination they just fell behind him lock,stock and barrel.
NO, I don't think this was a clear mandate for the congress. Maybe in some states like UP, Delhi, MUmbai etc but not nationwide. It is a fact that Raj, Chiru and Vijayakant acted as spoilers in their respective states, bcos how do you explain cong faltering and the DMK doing much better in TN !! and, NO...VARUN GANDHI SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED. He should be groomed to attract the youth and rural vote as our gullible electorate still votes by last name.

Anonymous said...

At this rate of performance of the BJP I don't think they will come to power before 2020. The BJP need to tone down its hardline Hindutva image. Poltics from just Right of Center will be acceptable to majority of Indians. Lessons in handling media, diplomacy to most of its members. It is often these little things that work against the BJP, esepecially in the English media circles.
Also they should chalk out a strategy to build a base in TN, AP, WB and of course UP. without which winning any general election is next to impossible. The Karnataka unit can help as it in South India as shares it borders with all the other South Indian states. Just take the case of an almost cent percent Tamil dominated area like Kolar Gold Fields or other Telugu dominated pockets in Eastern Karnataka and Banagalore Urban district where the BJP has done well. If BJP an get their votes here certainly they can do that in TN, AP or even Kerala. Similarly Bihar and Assam can help WB unit.
And for Godsake dont trust your allies too much!! They have all decimated the BJP over the years, wherever it has had little presence in those states.

Lastly, beware of the 'Soft Power' that the Congress has. Whenever the people of India seem too confused or spoilt for choices or is divided 50-50 over its governance, they seem to vote for the Congress. This probably explains in stupendous success in almost all corners of India this time. Even congressmen seem to be surprised at their own performance!

socal said...

Swapan, as always, you have a raised a whole repertoire of good points. Though most of them are hard truths, others don't jive so well with reality. That Rahul certainly epitomises youth aspiration is one such. Anyway, media will recyle this endlessly and it will become a truth by repeated assertion.

Hindu subconscious is still very much a part of the vast middle, and BJP can resurrect it if appeals to it more gently. Being a party of right, it is always prone to accusations of intolerance and bigotry. Even the European right parties in France, Germany, England and Italy cannot escape these labels. This, despite their urban faces, institutional networking, media props etc., especially in France and UK.

While institution building, intellectual networking are long-term goals, I believe the BJP needs to sort its house at least on some other issues. They are probably better handled by RSS. They must turn more suave in waging the culture wars. For example, pubs could be easily shuttered or inhibited by imposing punitive local or state taxes. Using Hindu monies to build schools, hospitals and other facilities in remote areas, on a more rapid scale might at least stall the momentum gained by the churches in getting mass conversions. Conversions to Islam in Europe and US are on the rise. They can certainly borrow some pages from their workbook (not textbook). On illegal immigration too, they can replicate the work of churches in Souther US. Offer asylum and sanctuary, with conversions. This might go a long way in mitigating the Bangladeshi immigration issue rather than harping on it as a law and order problem.

On a whole, they need to address these contentious issues because they are crucial to our security, and these other ways can be less grating for the Hindu ears that are otherwise easily influenced by the pro-Congress media. It will also translate to less harping points for the hostile media.

It is questionable as to what extent a pro-BJP media can help it overall, except that the diehard supporters will have someone to look too rather than be forever dissatisfied. I believe Fox News addresses this essential void, and MSNBC does the same for the left, leaving the centrist CNN in the lurch. I'm not aware of such parallels in Europe, except in UK where the right has intellectual heft in the form of newspapers.

As for the future leadership, I think here Modi and Jaitley will have to work together. Modi and Jaitley, as something appealing to semi-urban and urban voter might work better. Or they’ll have to get another younger leader, sort of reverse Obama: he got an old white guy to reassure the older and boomer crowd. That Biden was a Catholic(he kept raising the Finnigan part of his mother’s name because that’s a familiar Irish Catholic name) helped.

I believe the BJP will have a huge opening come next election in the form of muffled aspirations of the lower middle classes. The Congress next-gen of entitled pampered bablog has an inbuilt disconnect with this next boomer group of rural migrants. All talks of inclusiveness cannot bridge the inequity borne from limitations of resources. Based on the forecast for stagnant or low-growth world economy (thanks to worldwide massive govt. spending) the sweet talk about being “inclusive” will hit a natural wall. Who better than Modi to channel such dissatisfaction?

bigboss1228 said...

BJP has lost the upper caste votes and whatever is left will be gone in next few elections. Only strong BJP loyalists such as myself will be left. It will be very hard to convince upper caste people to ditch their new found electoral prosperity. The electoral equations have gone back to pre-1977 days.

If BJP wants to recover now, it has to get a very strong OBC leader (some Yadav would be the best) in Uttar Pradesh and project him as a chief minister. Also, you need to project a strong OBC (Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan) leader at the centre.

In Bihar, BJP should start projecting a Yadav leader in the state. Lalu's political career is almost over. Yadav's need someone to replace him. Ditch Nitish before he ditches you.

I am strong supporter of Modi. But unfortunately, he won't fly in the current electoral equations.

BJP has to work out its caste equation very soon. If they are successful in doing so, they will turn out this electoral calamity into success.

An important message for BJP at this moment: They should remain consistent with their ideology but they need to adapt very quickly to the changing political equation.

Anonymous said...

One thing BJP can learn from YSR in AP is about Media.

He couldn't make friends with the existing media outlets. So, he created his own media empire and even changed laws to help the new media company from Government.

India needs quality nationalist Media (not like the Jain TV of yesteryears)

We can't put up with leftist folks for long.

bjpincrisis said...

Swapanda, Please keep us informed on whether BJP is carrying out the immediate changes that you suggested.

I read that either Murli Manohar Joshi, Jaswant Singh or Sushma Swaraj will become leader of opposition. These names do not inspire confidence especially Jaswant Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi. Coupled with that it seems that Rajnath Singh wants to become party president for second time.

If BJP continues with this kind of leadership, it is doomed. Might as well become Rahulbaba supporter.

Anonymous said...

Hindu consciousness exists but the elections show that people do not think that BJP is the "thekedar" for Hindu issues because again it is seen as opportunistic in raising the temple issue only during polls. Also, they did not do anything to build the temple when they were in power.

Know the verity said...

"Modi could get only one extra seat and similarly the Congress sweep in Mumbai and Delhi all point out that the middle class and youth are tired of Hindutva."
------------------------------------------------

Hindutva was not issue in this election so how can u conclude that "ppl" r tired of Hindutva ? Wherever Hindutva was raised we won hands down. For e.g. In Kandhamal where Hindutva was a issue we won hands down in spite of more than 90 % voting. U know this is a converted Christian dominated area.

bjpincrisis said...

I would like to know what Hindu issues has the BJP really taken up when they were in power. Nothing. So if there is a Hindu consciousness they are not really loyal to the BJP.

Swapanda, do you feel that BJP guys get that this is a huge political loss? Or do you think vested interests will sweep this under the rug.

Anonymous said...

It seems rather strange that all parties opposing Congress lost - is this a coincidence or fraud??

Refer to these links - Election fraud - http://rajeev2004.blogspot.com/2009/05/election-results.html.

and

Winning elections made easy - http://www.indianexpress.com/oldStory/45296/

innqubus said...

There are many factors that cost the BJP the elections this time. In fact, the big surprise was the one-sided results. So now we have to find factors after this shocking defeat for the BJP.
1. Lack of Strategy: Attacks on PM. Even though they meant his weak leadership qualities and being a yes-man to Madame Sonia, the gullible people of India felt that they were personal attacks.
This was an non-issue election. Opposition didn't have a single major point to attack the incumbent govt. So the 'weak PM' misfired.
2. No Collective Effort and No Allies: In spite of knowing that the BJP has near zero presence in states like TN, AP, WB, Kerala etc. no efforts whatsoever were made by the BJP to create a challenging vote base in these states during 2004-2009. The results now are so obvious that few seats from these states if not a sweep could have changed the course of elections. The Party also lacked unity in organizing their election campaign. Lack of deserving candidates and party in-fighting cost them heavily.
3. Media: Newspaper & Electronic Media to be precise created a lot of negative campaign to the BJP. Their sycophancy toward the Congress was evident by opening and encouraging all negative incidents relative to BJP like Ayodhya-Babri issue, Kandahar Hijack, Post-Godhra riots etc. They even branded BJP as communal and Congress as the torchbearer of Secularism. Media shouldn't deny this fact.

Anonymous said...

Wah Swapan Da What a blog you have written.
If you want some differences in BJp and Cong just tell me what are they? If You compromise on them then you are doomed to be a second congress.
Then the game is over for all. Ponder over why BJP started low in up, first it started hob-nobbing with bsp and then people like jaitley suggesting in delhi to compromise on ideological issue or never take them up.
Now there is an Obama type person required, and certainly its none in the BJP front row now.

Prithviraj said...

I am a regular reader of your articles and in large measure subscribe to your views. Yes BJP missed the young voters this time.
BJP needs to do the following:
1. Change the perception that RSS is controlling the party affairs including electing leaders
2. Induct as many capapble and smart youngsters as possible into the party affairs (certainly the young brigade of Rahul, Priyanka, Priya Dutt, Sachin Pilot, Scindia, Deora and many more made a big difference)
3. Start a open debate throughout the country on defining what true secularism should mean. May be the starting point could be a discussion on 20 or 30 or 40 major issues that are linked to secularism. All segments of the society could be covered to get the opinion - all religions, all layers of our society - economic layers etc. BJP is being isolated by all as communal and the time has come to clean up this secular- psuedo secular - communal mess. Issues like anthem, flag, supremacy of the rule of law, constitution, reservation etc. - should be discussed threadbare - we can take even a whole year - but it must be done. For example the UPA government gave high school certificate status to Madrassa schools. Can vedic padashalas could be given the same status?!
4. Not only the OBC background of Modi should be highlighted but also there should be genuine induction of young educated candidates from all sections of the society cutting across caste and religeous lines.
5. The time is very right to polarise the country into two party system with Congress and BJP occupying more than 300 seats in Parliament. For the first time, regional leaders playing caste and minority pacification cards have fallen by the way side. That augurs well for India.

But the dangers of Media being owned (almost totally) by outsiders and Misssionaries and undermining India are very real. Congress is the epitome of corruption and the way media went out of its way to promote Congress and atack BJP (very hostile to all leaders and representatives) could damage India in many ways. All political parties shy away from talking about Kashmiri Pundits, problems of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh and destruction of temples in Malaysia - all under the guise of Secularism.

But watching the leaders of BJP after the election debacle one gets a strange feeling that the old brigade would pull the party further down.

Regards,

Prithviraj

Ravindra said...

Swapanda,

From what you are suggesting, it appears that you want the BJP to be a Congress clone!

Even assuming it does manage to do that successfully, do you think it will attract hard-core anti-Hindutva guys? Will the media ever spare it? Instead it will end up demoralising even its core voter base.

Sujeet Pillai said...

Swapanda - agree on most points: Similar views reflected on my blog.

http://rightstateofmind.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

swapan,being close to the elmedia,i am amazed that you do not know their motives and agenda.

Their agenda is to hound assertive hindu shaivaji's like modi and varun to extinction and to polarize muslim votes in favor of the congress.

They exagerrate and tom tom 2002 godhra modi even after 7 years,and they played varun tape 24-7 to impress and galvanize the muslims street.

ndtv promoted nandita das's firaq also helps before election.Even if such fiction helps recruiting india's enemy jihadis like kasab etc.

This way ndtv and other swho have pak arabia links and business impresses the islamist paymasters and of course the congress who will wiled power and will throw bones and crumbs in form of bailout,advers,padmas,fera rules and sheer money to these english media for their campaign against bjp which is now 20 years and running.
the bjp and people like you and chandan are too innocently nicey goody namby pamby to take on thees killer instincts of the proxy islamists in media and congress .

net result evil triumphs over good,so that niceyness is not really niceyness.As someone said
bjp cannot match the deviousness of congress and media.Atleast you and bjp have no excuse for being naive and plain stupid.See how congress divided the anti-incumbent vote with help of raj,vijaykanth,babulal marandi,chiranjeevi etc.

It takes a thief to catch a thief.You dont need to be devious but atleast dont be naive and ignorant

india15august.blogspot.com said...

from my blog: http://india15august.blogspot.com/

Members of the BJP and BJP supporters (including myself) have always taken the high moral ground vis-a-vis the congress party.

I think we acted like we talk to God on the phone every day.

The superiority complex was clearly evident in our speeches, TV and in statements made by leaders, discussions done by supporters like me. I do not know about others, but I would start shaking with anger if anyone started a dsicussion and began to deny BJP its 'natural' role as high priest of Indian politics. Such was the intensity of my passion for the BJP. We came to detest the two congress spokespersons on TV who did not appear to be in awe of the BJP's superiority. (They made fun of the BJP, which was sacrilege)

Those who were not with us were against us. Those against us were 'stooges', 'corrupt', 'fools', 'pseudo secularists', 'dividing the country'.

We had any number of conspiracy theories explaining how the hindus were being owerwhelmed by this or that.

Our leaders often gave speeches that I would not like my children to hear.

It is time for a reality check.

The BJP is a political party, like other parties. It is NOT a party with a difference. We are NOT racially, intellectually superior. We do NOT claim a divine right to rule. We are NOT the natural party of governance (that is for the people to decide at every election, no party should preempt the wishes of the people).

Members/supporters of the BJP come from different strata of Indian society - as do members of other parties. We are part of Mother India which includes 81% more people who do not vote for us. We respect and understand it.

We have a clarity of vision -

Protection of the indigenous culture of the country (Malayasia, Indonesia do it)

Development with a human face (the congress is the party for the rich, funny how the BJP has got tagged with this)

These two ideas alone are enough to keep the party going.

Anonymous said...

Your analysis of our defeat and your suggestions are well-thought out. However, they miss the most important point re our defeat. I have highlighted these below:

Our BJP Let the Indian Voter Down

Political pundits will be opining in print and on the air, analysing the ‘rout’ of BJP in the 2009 elections. Shrill TV anchors will smugly be preening themselves and saying ‘we told you so’, regardless of what they did actually tell us. In the meantime, the views of people like me will not be heard, for neither am I a political pundit not a TV anchor. I am not even a party leader.

However, I do have something to say.

The Indian electorate has given the Congress Party a rousing mandate. Does it mean that the Indian electorate wants a government which will carry on its policies of the last five years? Does the Indian electorate want a government that is soft on terror and indulges in blatant voter appeasement? Does the Indian voter want a government that has burdened the Indian economy with huge amounts of debt and very high fiscal deficit? Does the Indian electorate want a government which has seen such a high price rise in day to day commodities? Does the Indian electorate want a government that has demoralised our armed forces? Does the Indian electorate want a government which has seen nearly 10,000 farmers committing suicide every year during its tenure? Does the Indian voter want a government that does not care about the illegal bank accounts maintained by Indians abroad? On the face of it, the Indian voter has resoundingly said, "YES! That is the very government we want."

However, this is not quite the correct perspective. The Indian voters have collectively not said that this is what they want. They have pronounced a verdict on what they do not want. They do not want petty, egoistic, regional political leaders to call the shots. They do not want the communists to stop progress in the name of an outdated ideology. They do not want political leaders who can only wage a negative campaign. They do not want a disorganised political party, which does not even have lists of its own members in states like Haryana. They do not want politicians who show their faces in their constituencies once in five years. They do not want parties to lead them which cannot even discipline their own internally bickering leaders. They do not want a party which falls into media traps and gives rise to unneccesary controversies regarding its leadership. And, most of all, they do not want parties who fail to communicate where India will be headed if they do not get elected, in an effective manner.

India deserved better. However, it could have done worse. A fractured mandate with the power brokers in the wings licking their chops would have been disastrous for the country, regardless of which party came to power. So, we will have a stable government and a better business climate. It is to be hoped that with this mandate the Congress will be able to take more courageous and mature decisions on corruption, environment, terrorism, inflation, privatisation etc.

The Voters have not let down the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP has let down the voters and, in the process, it has let down the country. It has also let down party workers like me, who sat in meetings and observed the lack of our preparedness and listened to the level of discussions prior to the elections, in dismay.

It is easy to criticise in hindsight, but our shortcomings were obvious much before the elections. I watched these closely in Haryana and pointed out our lack of organisation and lack of infrastructure to our leaders. I was too new and we had very little time for my observations to have any effect. We noticed the candidate selection process in which the ground level workers of the party and most of the state party leaders, had no say. We asked for basic office facilities in our constituencies, a few months before the elections and were informed that we should wait for the candidates to be selected and then the candidates will provide the facilities. The candidates were selected by the central office about eight weeks before the elections and then they were busy running around trying to organise the very basic facilities such as their party offices and publicity material. We had a large number of educated volunteers ready to work for the party and, despite circulating their names and contact details none of the candidate’s offices had the time or inclination to contact them. This is not how a professional party should be run.

Our party did not have a focused campaign strategy. It did not sell its ability to govern well. It did not show by its words, its candidate selection or its infighting, that it was indeed the better alternative. Its ability to communicate to the electorate in terms the electorate could understand was missing. Even our slogan, Mazboot Neta Nirnayak Sarkar, failed to strike a chord amongst the voters. Perhaps someone will eventually find out why the party focused almost exclusively on Manmohan Singh as a weak and vacillating Prime Minister, instead of focusing on BJP’s potential efficiency, integrity and nationalism.

We had no separation of the organisational aspects of running the party and its electoral candidates. Every senior leader wanted to be the party’s candidate and went into a blue funk when denied a ticket. We were in the position of an Air Force where every ground duty engineer refuses to maintain the plane unless he is designated the pilot. It is no surprise that our plane remained grounded.

Our leaders were spread much too thin. For example, Mr. Arun Jaitley was trading punches with Kapil Sibal and Manu Vivek Singhvi every day on TV and was also busy looking after the campaigning in a number of states. This resulted in lack of focus during discussions. Much of the time, our spokesmen did not even have facts and figures at their fingertips when debating on TV. We did not focus on issues which mattered to the voters the most – for example, price rise did, Afzal Guru did not but we were more concerned with Afzal Guru than the price rise. There were other such mistaken priorities. We failed to mobilise our voters, primarily because we had no ground level organisation at the polling booth level as late as five weeks before the elections. And, so, we gave away the chance to change India for the better. The pity is that BJP is perhaps the party with the largest number of intelligent, educated and capable leaders. Along with the likes of me, our party has let down these leaders also.

People ask me what I feel about these results. I have a bagfull of mixed feelings. My first priority is my country and I feel happy for India, in that we will have a stable government headed by a basically decent person. I would have felt happier if BJP had received a similar mandate, but we obviously did not deserve it. I feel angry at the mismanagement and lack of discipline in a party which traces its origins to a disciplined, well-organised, nationalist entity like the RSS. I feel trepidation for the country’s safety and its economy, for Congress rule over the last five years does not give me confidence to feel otherwise. I feel hopeful that the Congress will improve its governance, unfettered by self-seeking allies. I feel curious to find out whether BJP will make radical changes in its organisational management and discipline or whether we will have merely cosmetic adjustments. I feel eager to be able to contribute towards strengthening the party and helping it meet challenges to come, such as the Assembly elections next year and the Parliamentary elections in five years’ time. I feel anxious to see the implementation of some urgently needed electoral reforms. And I feel proud that despite so many voters and so many political parties and so much national inefficiency, our country still manage to conduct national elections which are by and large fair at such a massive scale.

Perhaps some good will come to BJP from this defeat if it chooses to learn its lessons and its leaders do proper soul-searching to see where they have put their own interests above the party’s ideology and discipline. Perhaps senior leaders will pay adequate attention to the organisational aspects, which are the skeleton on which the party stands. Let us hope all this happens. The we will see better results five years from now – or even, maybe in the state assembly elections from the next year onwards.

Kishore Asthana
Kishore.asthana@bjp.org

Narendra said...

First of all, before deciding the path of moderate or extremist, Hindutva or Non-Hindutva, we should find out why we need BJP.
We have got so many parties. Congress has been there for a long time.
So, why we are not supporting one of those parties?
What are the reasons for supporting and building BJP?

If we are clear about the answer to the above question, then we will be able to decide the future path for BJP.

Narendra said...

Also, so many theories are floated for BJP and possible allies defeat. Real reason is DMK set up DMDK, Congress Chiranjeevi and Pawar MNS. See the result.50 constituencies were gifted to congress.

So it is not BJP policy which failed but the new game changer namely the vote splitter

The Congress-led UPA has three men to thank for its seat surge in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls: Raj Thackeray, Chiranjeevi, and Vijayakanth. They helped the victorious alliance win nearly 50 more seats in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu than anyone would have expected, as a result of which the UPA ended up with 262 seats, against the 222 it won in 2004.

The big story is in Andhra Pradesh, where matinee idol Chiranjeevi single-handedly took the Congress from defeat to victory and shattered Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu's dreams. An analysis of the results reveals that the Chiranjeevi factor decimated the TDP in 26 constituencies. The Congress netted 33 seats, four more than in 2004.

The Andhra Pradesh results are an irony of these elections. The Congress registered a drop of 3.84% in vote share but an increase of four seats, while the TDP's vote share plummeted 14.92% and it won one more seat. If the vote share change of the two main parties is added, it is obvious where Chiranjeevi's 17% vote share came from and which party he hit.

The other actor who rescued the UPA was Vijayakanth, who scripted history in a state known for pendulum swings.

For the first time in 23 years, the Tamil Nadu verdict was split, with the DMK-Congress combine picking up 26 seats and the AIADMK-led alliance having to settle for 13.

Vijayakanth's DMDK helped the Congress-DMK combine win in 14 constituencies, including P Chidambaram's hotly contested Sivaganga. In seven others, Jayalalithaa's AIADMK alliance was precariously poised till the very end. Ultimately, it won those seats, but by narrow margins. The final tally for the UPA was 26, 18 to the DMK and eight to the Congress, in a state where the ruling alliance feared a wipe-out.

The vote share figures tell a strange story in this state too. The DMK and the Congress registered an increase in vote shares but failed to sweep the state as in 2004, when their Democratic Progressive Alliance (which included the PMK and MDMK) won all 39 seats. The AIADMK's vote share dropped by 2.79% but the party won nine seats, unlike the duck five years ago.

The third game-changer was Raj. His Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) did exactly what it was expected to do. It cut into Shiv Sena-BJP votes and helped the Congress-NCP alliance to victory in 10 constituencies. Considering that the MNS contested only 12 seats, its delivery for the Congress-NCP was almost 100%. The UPA registered a spectacular second successive sweep in Mumbai and won Pune and Thane thanks to Raj.

Anonymous said...

I think the BJP's downfall came with not shouting loud enough against the likes of pramod mutalik etc. this passive attitude which must be read as support for the bajrang dal and their likes really does nothign for the true image of hindus and by hindus i mean people who call india their homeland i.e. all of us. we are a non violent people to the core. somebody projecting the idea that throwing women out bodily from a pub because they drank alcohol or whatever is our culture is thoroughly misguided and needs to be brought to justice and rehabilitated. the BJP's passive support to such peopel have cost it the election. there seems to be no consistency of ideology within the part from grass root right up to the top leadership. I am glad the congress has won... it was after all a case of picking the best out of a bad bunch!

Narendra said...

I agree that Hindus are non-violent.
But, what about muslim community?
Though the whole of muslim community is not violent, most of the terrorists are from that community and that community is not apposing them.
And our politicians are indirectly supporting them for the sake of votes.
For example, why Afzal Guru is not hanged?
If the politicians or govt is not doing anything, then the suffering community will resort to other methods to vent its anger.
Hindus have been suffering like this for ages and also have been protesting it since then.
Remember that we didn't get independence thru non-violence. It was one of the bloodiest battles in the world history and even in the end millions of hindus were killed when Nehru was delivering his speech!

If violence is bad, then do you call Shivaji, Rana Pratap, Chandragupta Maurya, Subhash Chandra Bose, etc as bad people and "shout loudly against them"?

I think we should look at this in a holistic view and then truth will dawn on us.
If Bhajarang Dal, VHP, RSS, were not there, then Hindus might become minority very fast.

So, be happy that BJP didn't shout loudly against Pramod Mutalik, Bhajarang Dal, etc.

Anonymous said...

The BJP needs to
1)Set up a world class visual media enterprise at the national level and regional ones at the state level ASAP. Boycott CNN-IBN and NDTV,as well as papers that are virulent BJP baiters- the Hindu, toi, ht.
2)Send the olden goldies to background and bring in fresh articulate faces
3)Dissolve this NDA nonsense; Ideology has taken a beating precisely because of too many compromises seen as hunger for power
4)TN, AP, Kerala, WB need massive organisational work. Having no presence in 144 such seats is akin to shooting oneself in the foot
5)UP, Uttarakhand, Orissa and Rajasthan need changes in party organisation. Begin with tough action in Uttarakhand where infighting has further dented party's image
6)L'affaire Kandhahar, attack on Parliament and the Jinnah episode showed the party in poor light. People have forgotten 26/11 but not these. Kandhahar was a golden opportunity to bite the bullet
7)Decide on what the party wants to be- a Hindu Nationalist party or a pseudo-congress
8)Reconcile to the fact that followers of the abrahamical religions hate the BJP and no amount of cajoling would bring them to the fold.
9)Elect a new party President and put him/her on a pedestal; insulate this person from the media, make him or her unapproachable to anyone, make him/her a demi-God who can't do anything wrong, make all party people, cadre or leader defer to him/her always. Sonia has no personal standing or integrity, can't speak extempore, poor debater, coterie-based and uses the Gandhi name too frequently but congressmen create an effective illusion of a great leader.
10)Don't ever take back people who've either left the party or are party hoppers or rejects. Value ideology and integrity at all costs.
11)Create a huge war-chest for future elections- if you can't enthuse them, buy them as TN and AP voters showed.
12)BJP ruled states need better development work; Gujarat and MP are good not great. Karnataka is lumbering, Uttarakhand is almost a lost cause, Chattisgarh is so-so.
13)Make sure the party stands wholly behind its cadres. Remember Krishnand Rai? wither his memory. In my state, nobody dare take on an MLA, veteran or new, ruling party or opposition.
14)Remember that power is the mistress of first among equals. To emerge first, one has to be with the top.

Renjith Nair said...

http://renjithmn.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/muthalikram-sene-and-election-2009/