A BJP supporter on the election result day of the West Bengal Assembly election, Kolkata, 2021 (ANI) Exclusive
A BJP supporter on the election result day of the West Bengal Assembly election, Kolkata, 2021 (ANI)

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But while post-electoral disequilibrium is often understandable in a party, the way out is to go back to the roots, review the reasons for defeat, let an elected government function while remaining a vigilant opposition, and get its house in order. That may be a lesson for the BJP in the south and the east.
By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JUN 10, 2021 07:26 PM IST

Electoral defeats are hard. During a campaign, a party invests all its energy, resources, networks and organisational might in securing victory, vote by vote, polling booth by polling booth, constituency by constituency. To keep up the morale of workers and to sustain a degree of motivation, a party also convinces itself that it is on the verge of victory. And that is why when the results are adverse, and a party confronts a loss or less-than-optimal performance, all equations get unsettled. There is a familiar blame-game between units of the party. Top leaders are questioned on strategy and tactics. Others begin weighing their future prospects and shift allegiances. Workers worry about protection in politically competitive, even violent, settings. And the party in power, emboldened by victory, deploys all means to crush a party that is already bruised to be able to weaken a competitor when the time is ripe.

This is a familiar story in Indian politics. And the prime example, nationally, is the Congress after its 2014 and 2019 losses. But since its defeat in West Bengal and rout in Kerala, the BJP appears to be going through a similar pattern. In Kerala, the party faces questions about its sources and modalities of funding and charges of bribing of candidates, with the police officially pursuing investigations against the party’s state unit chief. In West Bengal, the BJP first bore the brunt of post-electoral violence by Trinamool Congress cadres, witnessed internal fractures among state leaders, and went on a collision course against the newly elected state government.

But while post-electoral disequilibrium is often understandable in a party, the way out is to go back to the roots, review the reasons for defeat, let an elected government function while remaining a vigilant opposition, and get its house in order. That may be a lesson for the BJP in the south and the east.

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