NEW DELHI: After witnessing a rout in Delhi’s Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership has directed all candidates who couldn’t win their seats to learn from Smriti Irani. Irani, who after losing to Rahul Gandhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, continued to cultivate Amethi, which helped her reap rich electoral dividends and emerge a giant-killer in 2019 by defeating the then Congress president in his home turf.

Smriti Irani, who is currently holding the Textile Ministry portfolio, had first contested a Lok Sabha election from Chandni Chowk in Delhi in 2004, but lost to Congress heavyweight Kapil Sibal. She was elected to Rajya Sabha in 2011 and re-elected in 2017 for a second term. The actor-turned-politician Irani held many important portfolios, including Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Textiles and Information & Broadcasting Ministry in the Narendra Modi-led NDA government.

Although the BJP has formed a panel to evaluate the reasons for the defeat in the Delhi Assembly polls and the findings are yet to come, initial findings have suggested that there are many reasons behind the party’s loss. Lack of leadership and groundwork are considered to be the most important reasons for the defeat of the party. A senior BJP functionary told The Sunday Guardian: “It has emerged in the initial findings that most of the BJP candidates were not connected to the electorate on the ground; some of them had not even visited their constituencies for many years. The lack of reach among the voters and having almost no local leadership, combined with the massive populist campaign of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) finally pushed BJP to the margins in the capital.”

“Many senior party leaders have come to the view that defeated candidates should learn from Smriti Irani and keep cultivating their constituencies so that the party doesn’t face the same kind of defeat in future polls. The senior leaders have also conveyed that BJP candidates failed to make voters understand about the AAP’s propaganda and hype about the development of Delhi,” the same functionary cited above said.

The AAP stormed back to power in Delhi by winning an impressive 62 seats, while the BJP could work its magic only in the remaining eight seats in the national capital and this is its sixth consecutive loss for the BJP in state polls. Although the BJP succeeded in forming a coalition government in Haryana, repeated defeats have rang alarm bells for the party.

Political observers say that in a direct fight with the Congress or a regional player like the AAP, the BJP’s performance in Assembly elections has not been very attractive and if the trend continues, the situation will be challenging for newly elected BJP president J.P. Nadda. The BJP is warming up for the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls this year and West Bengal Assembly polls next year.


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