Why BJP lost Elections 2009

This article was published on June 5 on www.rediff.com. To read article click here. A near ditto article is below in a chapter wise format.
Most media pundits and BJP supporters were surprised with BJP’s performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. It was always in doubt whether the BJP led NDA would reach the magical figure of 272 but optimists believed that post electoral alliances could help. This article tries to give a different perspective on the reasons for BJP’s poor performance.

After the death of Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhi took total charge of the Congress. Somewhere along the way, he felt that representing Hindus alone would not enable him to be India’s foremost leader so he sought support of the Muslim community by supporting the Khilafat Movement in 1919 (protest by Indian Muslims against the abolishing of the Caliphate in Turkey) and Hindu Muslim unity, with disastrous consequences (read B R Ambedkar’s Thoughts on Pakistan) Click Here

Shri L K Advani was respected by most Hindus as the father of Hindutva. He too felt that the dream of becoming prime minister could be realized only when he became acceptable to the Muslims and allies who had Muslim support. The visible point of his transformation from a Hindutva warrior to a Secular person was his visit to the Jinnah mausoleum and controversial remarks during a visit to Karachi in June 2005. Advani, thus sought to become Secular, as Congress leaders have been, for over 75 years. This required him to ignore Hindu concerns and pain, overlook Islamic terrorism and Christian evangelism.

Ironically the man who coined the term ‘Pseudo Secularism’ and called the Congress pseudo secular, became so himself.

As the foremost critic of secularism as practiced in India, Advani knew that the word Secular is not defined in the Indian Constitution is a concept borrowed from Europe where being secular meant separation of church from state; yet ambition forced an image change.

It was hoped that the makeover would inspire Muslims to vote for an Advani-led NDA. That did not happen. When a politician, actually any human being, has for over sixty years stood for certain values and does an about-turn in the winter of his life, people question the credibility of such a leader.

The joy in the Advani camp on his being nominated as BJP’s PM candidate was misplaced, premature as if he had become PM. By virtue of being declared PM in waiting, his opponents had months to design a strategy to counter him, because BJP prepared no satellite-booster to launch him to the winning post! By virtue of being the tallest leader in the BJP, had the NDA won, Advani would surely have become PM. BJP laid excessive emphasis upon his pre-eminence, while Congress used the campaign period to cleverly cover up the deficiencies of its five-year rule.

Now assume that no one was nominated as PM, the arena would be perceived to be open but actually not. The Congress would have been confused whether to position Singh as PM or! Barring Sheila Dixit the Congress has rarely declared a PM/CM candidate before the elections. In fact choosing a leader post elections has always been its biggest problem. The confusion in PM candidature could have led to infighting in the Congress with one trying to pulling another down, something they are good at. When you know in advance who your key opponent is it tends to unite!

Then there was the election campaign. A Presidential type campaign was begun, portraying Advani as a tough no nonsense man. He called Manmohan Singh the weakest PM ever. Most posters showed Advani only. A new website and blog were successfully designed to connect with the youth. The usual noises of making a Ram Temple, abolishing article 370 were made. An innovative Information Technology policy was presented.

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