Decoding BJP’s defeat in Himachal
The results of elections can be harsh and even cruel at times. Even a vote share difference of just 0.92 per cent can create a huge margin of up to 15 seats, winning the rival parties’ seats. Similar is the story of the recent elections in Himachal Pradesh where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 42.99 per cent, and 43.91 percent votes have fallen in the account of Congress. Despite the difference in voting percentage being below 1 per cent, the Congress has won 40 and the BJP 25 seats in the 68-member assembly.
BJP’s National President Jagat Prakash Nadda’s party’s crushing defeat in his own state, i.e. Himachal Pradesh, has raised questions on his leadership. Nadda, who got the BJP government repeated in UP and Uttarakhand before Gujarat, could not change the custom of change of power in Himachal Pradesh. In a way, BJP has written the script of its own defeat. Knowing that the division of opposition votes is always in favour of the ruling party, BJP indirectly forced the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to leave the fray even before the electoral battle began. The gamble of luring state-level top leaders to attend events for photo ops and publicity about their invincibility backfired on the party.
The result of Himachal can be compared to that of Gujarat where due to the presence of AAP, BJP has been able to create a new history. In the state, AAP divided the vote bank of Congress by making a dent in it. Although without this help of AAP, BJP would have won in Gujarat, but then it might have got little fewer seats. In Gujarat, the BJP polled an impressive 52.50 per cent vote, while the combined vote share for the Congress and AAP stood at 40.20 per cent. Had the opposition votes not been divided, the opposition would have got more seats than the present number and the BJP would have got a comfortable victory instead of a landslide victory.
JP Nadda could not put Himachal in the BJP’s lap despite throwing Prime Minister Narendra Modi fully into the election campaign. However, Modi repeatedly appealed in public meetings that every vote cast on the lotus flower would strengthen him in Delhi. Nadda could not even realize that there is strong anti-incumbency in Himachal regarding the Jairam government. In 2021, in the by-elections in 3 assembly and Mandi parliamentary seats, BJP was defeated at all four places, but Nadda did not take any lesson from it.
As the National President, Nadda had a free-hand from ticket allocation to election planning in Himachal. In the election year, the central government gave Himachal gifts like Bulk Drug Pharma Park, AIIMS, Vande Bharat Express. Despite this, BJP had to face a bad defeat. Nadda failed in foolproof planning for the elections.
Not only this, Nadda was also accused of favoritism and ignoring the opposition in ticket allocation. The biggest reason for BJP’s defeat is believed to be the cutting of tickets for 10 sitting MLAs and 21 BJP rebels contesting the election. In a state like Himachal, for the first time such large-scale rebellion was witnessed within the BJP. Somewhere behind this rebellion was the partiality done in the tickets distributed under the leadership of JP Nadda. From PM Narendra Modi to all the central ministers and leaders could not convince the rebels. Result–BJP had to face defeat in the election.
By Ashok Kumar
(The writer is news editor, Uday India.)