A day after the BJP’s electoral drubbing in Delhi, state president Satish Upadhyay said he believed the party could have avoided a “Kejriwal-centric” campaign, while his colleague Jagdish Mukhi questioned delays in announcing the polls and naming Kiran Bedi as the chief ministerial candidate.
Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange on Wednesday — a transcript of which will be printed on February 15 — Upadhyay said: “It is my personal belief that we could have avoided making the campaign Kejriwal-centric. A lot of the campaign was negative, which probably helped Kejriwal get sympathy. In my personal opinion, we could have avoided making our campaign about Kejriwal. We put him on the centrestage.”
The Delhi BJP president said this would be part of the party’s introspection. The BJP was reduced from 31 seats in 2013 to just three. “Perhaps a negative campaign could have been avoided. This could have been a reason, it is something we have to analyse,” he said.
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Asked if the haramzaadon remark made by Union Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti had hurt the campaign, Upadhyay admitted that such remarks could have been avoided. “Maybe some things should not have been said. Words have a life of their own. Some will be forgotten after a sentence, others will haunt you forever,” he said.
Upadhyay said the AAP may have won a huge mandate — 67 of 70 seats — but governing Delhi is not an easy task. “Delhi is not an easy city to govern. There are multiple authorities. Making promises are easy, and the AAP has made many such promises. We will know in six months whether the AAP can deliver. The voters can be unforgiving. The BJP may not be able to oppose their policies in the Delhi assembly, but we will do our job outside,” said Upadhyay.
Mukhi, who was once touted to be named the CM candidate, maintained that the delay in announcing both the CM candidate and the party nominees may have cost the BJP.
“In politics, opportunities once missed never come back… our central leadership… decisions were required to be taken at some point, they were taken at other times. I feel if we had to have a face, or go without a face as we did in Haryana, that call should have come earlier. Our candidates were announced only on January 20, some were announced on January 21. That caused a lot of bad blood… The next day was the last date for filing nominations, people got busy. There was no time to reach out to disgruntled elements,” said Mukhi.
He indicated that the party had failed to seize the momentum after the the Lok Sabha elections, and the assembly polls in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. “Things were much better then. I am not aware why Delhi elections were not called then. You have to ask the senior people who decide,” said Mukhi, emphasing \that he was no longer an office-bearer in the state unit.