04 December, 2020

Back To The Good Lord

Defeat triggers introspection on the BJP's core identity and whether it should go back to its hardline ways Updates

Back To The Good Lord
The day before the results of Election 2004 were announced, the air-conditioning in the media briefing room at the BJP's national headquarters in Delhi broke down. Wiping his brow in the May heat, party spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi lobbed a feeble joke: "India is still shining—but if there is a temporary breakdown, it is because of the Congress party."

So self-assured about a victory, the BJP's managers and spin doctors cut sorry figures in defeat. There was party president Venkaiah Naidu, his bald pate shining very brightly indeed, refusing to concede that the entire 'feelgood' and the 'Bharat Uday' campaigns had been starkly out of touch with Indian realities. On D-Day, May 13, the usually garrulous Arun Jaitley appeared to have been shocked into silence. It was left to Pramod Mahajan to admit that he was "half-stunned and half heart-broken".

In one of the most astonishing electoral results in independent India, the carefully built BJP-NDA structure has collapsed like a house of cards. Cemented brick by brick by the RSS and the larger Sangh parivar, it had...


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