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Jaitley call to ‘introspect’

Arun Jaitley

New Delhi, Jan. 2: Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley has admitted his party’s showing in the Delhi elections is a “cause of introspection”.

In a Facebook post, the Rajya Sabha Opposition leader said “even though the BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of votes and seats, the election results of Delhi are a cause of introspection”.

“Ordinarily, the BJP should have swept the poll. However, a section of the electorate was impressed with the idea of experimenting (with) a new alternative. It was a silent protest against the quality of conventional politics that gave a significant number of votes to the Aam Aadmi Party,” Jaitley wrote.

In the 70-member Assembly, the BJP won 32 seats — with ally Akali Dal — falling short of the majority by four.

Internal assessments suggested failure to take advantage of the mood against the previous Sheila Dikshit government for several reasons. These included the inability to project a chief ministerial candidate early because of squabbles in the state unit and multiple claimants.

Jaitley also used the opportunity to send a veiled warning to Delhi BJP leaders. “State leaders as also individual candidates will have to measure up to popular expectation.”

He added that in the capital, the BJP would have to “do a lot more” to strengthen people’s perceptions of credibility, almost acknowledging the party hadn’t done it so far.

However, Jaitley had a kind word for Harshvardhan, eventually chosen the chief ministerial candidate. “The installation of Dr Harsh Vardhan as party’s unquestioned leader in Delhi is a step in the right direction.”

Jaitley took potshots at the Congress, first for the Maharashtra government’s initial rejection of a judicial commission report on the Adarsh scam and second, for the allegations of “impropriety, corruption, quid pro quo and conflict of interest” against Virbhadra Singh, the party’s Himachal Pradesh chief minister.

“If the political message of the New Year is that ‘credibility matters’, the Congress has still not learnt from its mistakes. Despite being routed in the four states, it started the New Year with a baggage of two cover-ups…. This is defiance of ethics which can only earn the wrath of public opinion even more,” he remarked.

Jaitley noted that 2014 could be “substantially different” for India’s polity and governance because the “bar of expectation” of people has been raised high not just in the middle-class but in a “substantial aspirational class” too.