Terrorism, the focus of BJP campaign in the assembly elections in four states, appears to have failed to enthuse voters as the party lost government in Rajasthan and was unable to wrest power in Delhi.
Even in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where BJP retained power, the victory was attributed by the party leaders to development rather than terror plank.
BJP had made terrorism its main electoral plank, accusing the Congress of being “soft” on dealing with the scourge and projecting itself as the party which could insulate the country from it.
After the November 26 Mumbai attacks, the BJP intensified its campaign on terrorism. In this connection, the party issued advertisements in newspapers and its leaders, including L K Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, raised their pitch against Congress over the issue.
However, this plank failed, significantly in Delhi and Rajasthan, which have suffered terror attacks repeatedly. As electoral results trickled in, BJP President Rajnath Singh virtually admitted the failure of terrorism as a poll plank when he said that local issues played a crucial role in the elections.
At the party headquarters here, BJP leaders were silent on the issue of terrorism and instead attributed victories in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to the development plank.
“It is for the first time in the history of BJP, with the exception of Gujarat, people have voted us to back to power on the basis of performance. The vote for BJP in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is a vote for performance,” senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said.
In Madhya Pradesh, Congress feels that the Mumbai attacks could have influenced the voting pattern to some extent.
For Congress, development plank worked in Delhi, where it retained power for third time, as also in Rajasthan, where it wrested power from BJP.
Congress General Secretary Ashok Gehlot said the development agenda worked for them in Rajasthan where it is set to emerge as the single largest party.
“As against the BJP, the Congress made development an issue. We went to the people with a positive agenda. Rajasthan had been living in the shadow of terror for the last five years,” he said referring to the BJP rule under Vasundhara Raje.