Delhi has spoken after a polarising campaign. BJP will be quite happy with its vote share, if not the result. In the run-up to the elections, BJP had made the communal divisions in the country the talking point of the election. As is evident from the results, BJP has notched a six percent gain in vote share. At a time when the economy is bleeding and even BJP supporters have begun to admit that the party’s management of the economy has been sub-par, BJP has managed to convince nearly 40% of voters, or two out of every five voters, that their religion is in danger and that needs to be the first priority. That is a phenomenal feat.
Alternatively, what could have happened to BJP without raising the stakes through Shaheen Bagh? I argue that a complete wipeout in terms of vote share too awaited BJP without this style of campaigning. The evidence is the rise in vote share. Except for the warnings to protect religion, nothing else in the BJP’s poll messaging stood out. And I believe they did find their mark. Suddenly, a handful of uncles and aunties on a society whatsapp group that I was member of started beaming out hate filled messaging without a care to what their neighbours would think. In a group of over 200, five or six of them incessantly sent messages. A few “secularists” attempted to counter them but were quickly overwhelmed.
I kept wondering whether the silent majority concurred or demurred with the hate messaging. As the results tell me, more voted against BJP than for it. Even during the Lok Sabha elections I had not seen so many partisans come out of the woodwork to support their party. Of course, nobody was made to fear their religion or lives were in danger then as in the past three weeks in Delhi. Comfortably ahead, BJP didn’t need to divide to win. But the fear of losing another state election appears to have given way to desperation in choosing this course in Delhi. So will this be the norm in all BJP campaigns of the future in the face of certain defeat?
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.