As the first reports started to trickle in, the apprehensions of the party workers at 7 RCR and Congress HQ began to crystallize to gloom. The early trends seemed to be daunting and slowly yet steadily the buildup towards the ultimate result was emerging. Beyond doubt the flow was in favor of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the major opposition party. By the end of the day... The Congress was truly humbled with an abysmally low tally... 44 seats, the lowest ever in the electoral history since independence. For the first time in two decades BJP emerged on its own as the largest single party. Backdrop & Introspection
The result had its impact, at the Congress Parliamentary Board Meeting, the next day. Party President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and the Vice President Mr. Rahul Gandhi offered to resign. In an expected twist to the tale, their resignations were not accepted and the party decided to take collective responsibility. There were many issues to focus and it was quite unclear as to how the grand old party would seek to address these. For two successive terms, the party governed at centre along with its coalition partners. 2004 elections sprang a definite surprise. The BJP government was on an upswing, the campaign was highly innovative, the economy in good nick with growth rate around 9.5% and the image of its leader Mr. AB Vajpayee was most respected. The party perceived itself to be in the driving seat and its campaign “India Shining” was expected to hit off well with the electorate. In spite of strong economic indicators, fairly good record of governance, general sense of well being and all the predictions of re-election, the BJP were stunned. The congress campaign negated the best of BJP’s claims thus enabling them to take the lead in forming the government. An intrepid and a politically innovative advertisement blitz failed to impress. The most unexpected happened and Congress secured its victory. The first five years i.e. 2004-2009, were conservative yet relatively non controversial. The symptoms of decline began to emerge. The economy was showing signs of recession, growth rate was on the slump, global economic conditions started to show challenging signs yet the congress managed to pull off in 2009 to get re-elected to form a coalition government again. Things began to change… emboldened by its re-election and the party started to influence policies and decisions resulting in an indifferent state of governance, conflicts, dilution of control, ineffective monitoring. Ministries began to exert themselves and more or less operated with impunity and became non responsive to PMO; abundance of corrupt practices and scandals broke out, economy began to decline with high inflation, price rise, unemployment, dropping investments, growing incidents of violence against women, Lok pal agitation etc which put a great deal of pressure. The PM to large extent restricted his operations to his domain and was not seen exerting himself to bring the administration under his control. Coupled with this was the most ineffective approach towards media and interaction on media which left the party scuttling for cover on many occasions. There emerged a general sense of stoicism and stagnant state of affairs which was becoming a common perception among people. In spite of the issues challenging the party, it seemed to overlook a large number of them. For the elections 2014, the focus of the party remained on personality i.e. BJP priminsterial candidate and the issue of secularism. The emergence of AAP and its impact was sidelined and many issues relevant to the current context of elections were not taken into cognizance. The approach was quite ambivalent and ambiguous. The net result was a mixed message to the electorate looking for answers to questions which remained unanswered. Campaign Challenges : BJP
By 2011, the BJP apparently began its preparations to target...
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