NEW DELHI: Why has Delhi remained elusive for BJP even after the party has had a grand showing in two consecutive Lok Sabha elections and in states across the country under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah?
After its early hold over the political capital since Independence, right from the days of the Jan Sangh which later transformed into BJP, the party has seen big leaders in its fold like Madanlal Khurana, V K Malhotra, Saheb Singh Verma among a slew of others.
New generation of leaders have failed to replace them for various reasons, according to top sources in the party.
Soon after BJP got its first majority government at the Centre under Prime Minister Modi, his able lieutenant Shah found it difficult to get his party’s foothold back in the Capital even in the face of anti-incumbency against a three-term Congress led by Sheila Dikshit, and Arvind Kejriwal’s new party AAP swept the assembly with the broom symbol.
Shah, who had delivered an enormous national victory for BJP, found it tough to find faces who could represent the people of Delhi. While hunting for faces and trying to get deep into the reasons for apathy towards BJP in the city- state, the BJP leadership realised that with the party having grown over years, the Delhi unit was full of faces who were not full-time political leaders.
They were either rich businessmen or men and women who moved around national leaders living in Delhi and worked as their satellites, delivering only to their needs, rather than being connected to the people on the ground.
Hence, having lost touch with the ground realities, the Delhi unit leaders failed to understand the electorate and cater to their needs. The Delhi unit served the senior battery of BJP leadership and kept their party posts, according to BJP insiders.
The fact that Delhi’s electorate had changed in terms of demography over the 20 years before 2014 had also gone past them. With more people from across the country having migrated to Delhi in these years, the demand and needs of the Delhi people had also changed from what it was when the city was dominated by an essentially refugee, Punjabi population. But the party had remained dominated by the earlier cultural hue that it wore, according to party watchers.
While Shah set out working on it, for instance by bringing in Manoj Tiwari as the Delhi BJP chief, who represented a good number of Bihari and eastern UP population that had moved into the city over years, the experiment has not shown results yet, with a strong cosmopolitan AAP getting down to the ground and holding on to it by working to meet the aspirations of the new population of the city.


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