The BJP is beset with a familiar Indian trait of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Till Narendra Modi came along and used every available opportunity to catapult himself on the national centre stage. And yet, even a Modi-led BJP can commit harakiri. The recent by election results only show how an electoral victory can breed complacency, even arrogance. What else explains the BJP’s decision to move away from its 2014 general election winning formula of development-driven politics and pitch Yogi Adityanath, an archetypal rabble rouser, as their star campaigner in Uttar Pradesh? At a time when the Indian voter is crying out for good governance, Adityanath is a reminder of an old world politics that thrives on communal hatred.
So why did the BJP change course? That’s a question which Amit Shah must answer as the BJP president. Shah had successfully micro managed the 2014 general election campaign in UP, and had planned the by-election campaign too. Maybe, he wanted to experiment with traditional Hindutva politics. Or maybe he thought he had to compensate for the lack of a strong credible local leadership by attempting a religious polarisation. Or maybe he just felt the BJP could walk on water after its general election success. This by-election wasn’t a referendum on Modi’s leadership at the Centre. But the by-election is a wake up call for Shah. A man of the match in the general election, he has lost out just four months later. In electoral politics, never take the voter or the opposition for granted. As for the Congress, it is clutching at straws if it believes that the BJP’s lack of success in the by-polls is a sign that it’s on course to return to power. An arrogant BJP, a Congress in denial, a Samajwadi party winning by default: picture abhi baaki hai!