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Rediff.com  » News » BJP focuses on win in Goa, Punjab instead of loss in UP

BJP focuses on win in Goa, Punjab instead of loss in UP

Last updated on: March 06, 2012 20:03 IST

Rediff.com's Priyanka narrates the different moods at the Bharatiya Janta Party's headquarters in New Delhi on election verdict day.      

The national headquarters of the Bharatiya Janta Party was quiet on the morning of counting of votes for the recently held legislative assembly elections in five states -- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.  

There was little commotion in the party office, with only a handful of party workers in sight. Banners of the party lay strewn around, as laborers were still busy putting them up. However, a number of journalists had already occupied a TV room in the office.

Early indications of which way the results were likely to swing in the five states came around 9 am. Ecstatic at the early leads in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and its surprise turnabout in Punjab, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was the first to arrive at the party headquarters.

Reporters rushed to him and he proudly declared, "BJP feels that its performance has been satisfactory and the results prove it." He was at ease with anyone approaching him and asking questions. He looked in command.

Most journalists returned to the television sets and a debate about who was going to form the government in Uttar Pradesh ensued. It was clear that the Samajwadi Party was going to be the single largest party, and one journalist wondered aloud, "Does this mean that goonda raj would be back."

"Of course," another journalist answered, "I saw gypsies with a cycle sticker doing the rounds at midnight. And I saw two police officers sleeping in their police vans early in the morning today."

Comments continued in the presence of BJP leaders at their party headquarters.

An hour later into the vote count, the BJP numbers gradually started sliding, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Senior party member Prakash Javdekar reached the party office and swung into damage control.

He said the party was doing very well in three (Goa, Punjab and Uttarakhand) of the five states, clearly leaving their poor performance in Uttar Pradesh untouched. BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman was also seen refraining from answering questions on UP vote count.

However, by half-past-ten, the Bharatiya Janta Party was fully geared to answer questions, especially on UP. TV channels were now using a nearby lawn within the office premises to interview party leaders. At one point, there was Chandan Mitra, Prakash Javdekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Balbir Punj, all practically sitting next to each other, facing different cameras and participating in different television debates.

The newly launched homegrown news channel of the BJP, Yuva4india.tv was also present on the ground, but could not find participants.

By noon, it was clear that the BJP had not gained anything in UP. Around that time, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and senior party leader Sushma Swaraj arrived, and was perhaps the first to offer an explanation to the party's abysmal performance in UP.

Swaraj explained that the votes in UP was clearly polarised between the two major parties -- the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. The mandate, she explained, was clear because the voter wanted to oust the Mayawati-led BSP and hence voted for the Samajwadi Party.

"We had worked very hard, let's see what happens, the final result will be out only by evening," said a party worker. "In any case, it is the voter who decides in a democracy," he added.

The comments of BJP leaders on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and how he had 'failed' in the UP elections and their win in Punjab and Goa had now all become very similar.

Party president Nitin Gadkari said the BJP had fielded seven Christian candidates in Goa and all of them had won. "Majority of the Catholics have voted for us and hence now nobody can accuse us of being against minorities," Gadkari claimed.

He also said that it was for the first time a party had been voted back for a second term in Punjab. The party appeared all pepped up and Gadkari added that it might register its first win ever in Manipur.

"I hear we are leading in two seats," Gadkari said.

However, the question of what went wrong in UP elections still remained hard to answer. "It is because of polarisation between the two big parties, and all the floating votes went to Samajwadi Party this time. All our party workers have worked very hard and nobody is to be blamed."

"I always feel that introspection is an ongoing process. If we lose, we introspect; if we win, we introspect," said Gadkari.

As the results became more conclusive towards the end of the day, it was clear that Goa and Punjab were going to be clear winners for the BJP.

By the end of the day, as the leaders exited the party office, party workers burst firecrackers at the headquarters clearly indicating that the BJP was keener on celebrating its win in Goa and Punjab rather than sulking about its performance in Uttar Pradesh.

Priyanka in New Delhi