NEDW DELHI: Face, or no face — the BJP’s riddle in Delhi further deepened with decimation in the Assembly election. After projecting chief ministerial faces in 2008, 2013 and 2015 polls, the BJP went into the 2020 election without a CM candidate, but the result was no different.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah led the BJP campaign from the front, roping in over 300 MPs to shore up the morale of the party workers.
Yet, Shah had no answer to the electoral challenge in the bipolar contest in Delhi. Congress gave up the fight in the face of evident desertion of workers and support bases to the ruling AAP.
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All the resources poured could only push the vote share to 38.51 per cent, an eight percent jump from 2015, but the AAP romped home with 54 per cent votes to win 62 of the 70 Assembly seats.
The BJP mid-way seemingly launched personal attacks on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, taking no lessons from 2015 when a similar campaign had boomeranged.
With the polling date approaching, the BJP workers read the writing on the wall that their original script to stay away from a Kejriwal focused campaign had gone awry. That the BJP’s narrative around the Shaheen Bagh protest couldn’t match up to the AAP’s poll gambit centred on development was evident after the Delhi verdict.
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In 2008, 2013 and 2015, the BJP projected Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Harsh Vardhan and Kiran Bedi as its CM face but with no success. Projecting a face was seen as a double-edged sword, with more harm due to unabated faction fighting.
But, Delhi has voted for popular faces since 1993. Madan Lal Khurana brought the BJP to power for the first five years, followed by Congress’ Sheila Dikshit (1998-2013) and Kejriwal (since 2013).
The BJP in Delhi faces a leadership crisis, with no leader who can overwhelm the faction-ridden units and challenge Kejriwal.