Reportedly, BJP is in thinking mode after lacklustre response to Narendra Modi’s rally at Ramlila Ground on Saturday while Aam Aadmi Party leaders are tweeting about the ‘poor turnout’. AAP leader Ashutosh has even written a piece titled ‘Modi’s Delhi rally has AAP relieved’.
BJP was eyeing a crowd of around one lakh while The Hindu said the gathering was 35,000 quoting the Delhi Police sources. Overall, the estimations range in 35,000 to 40,000 bracket.
It is quite a letdown for the central leadership of BJP and going by the stern image of Narendra Modi, he is not going to let it go.
But that doesn’t matter for voters, who in spite of being a non-working day, Saturday, didn’t turnout in numbers as BJP strategists had expected.
Now, nothing can be written on the basis of this one rally only.
There might be reasons like the intense cold wave when people prefer to stay indoors, under warmth of quilts. In such a situation, attending a political rally would be a ‘tough decision’ even for most of the Modi supporters who can enjoy the full speech in real time on live broadcasts.
Also, the much talked about factions of Delhi BJP, the reluctance on the part of the members of parliament who all are from BJP in bringing people to the venue or Delhi’s leaders being miffed with Satish Upadhyay’s efforts to project his chief-ministerial claims can be the reasons for thin crowd from Modi’s standards this time.
Though worried, the BJP central leadership would like to see this ‘letdown’ more as a ‘mismanagement’ issue than a ‘waning interest in Modi’.
But that doesn’t mean the party doesn’t need to engage in some serious soul-searching.
After all, the usual hallmark of Narendra Modi’s Delhi rallies has been crowds in lakhs as we saw in some big rallies preceding it. This situation was like if there was a crowd of some 2-3 lakh against the expectation of 4-5 lakh, it would be seen as ‘less than expected’ outcome.
Also, the Saturday rally was only after seven months of the absolute high of May results of the Lok Sabha polls where BJP swept the scene winning all seven parliamentary constituencies and leading in 60 of the 70 assembly segments falling in these constituencies.
Also, a report on social media trends on ‘Abhinandan Rally’, as the Saturday rally was projected, failed to earn talking points. Modi’s rallies during poll campaigns of last Delhi assembly polls and Lok Sabha election would normally be among the top trending social media events.
But ‘Abhinandan Rally’ remained a non-entity this time. Instead, #DelhiAsksPMModi on Modi’s promises for Delhi was trending on Twitter.
Also, the same report attributes it to differences between BJP’s IT Cell and Samvad Cell (social media cell). So, here as well, BJP can find a reason to think the failure is not calamitous and is a matter attributable to mismanagement that can be worked out.
But it is more than that. It is not about hashtags created and promoted by parties. It is about the overall social media behaviour that picks up a hashtag based on the popularity or notoriety of an event, irrespective of who created it. The #mufflerman hashtag, initially created to mock Arvind Kejriwal, has indeed become a top Twitter trend about the content lauding him and is creating positive vibes.
So, before the next election rally in Delhi, BJP needs to come with the answers that the yesterday’s rally created – of mismanagement or if the interest is really waning and if so, then ‘why’ of it and how to address this ‘why’ – to have a rally of the stature of Narendra Modi’s popularity, because the next letdown would have a negative ripple effect.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–/