On May 2nd, BJP suffered a debacle in the West Bengal elections by performing far below expectations and below its own estimates of 200 seats. Following the victory of TMC, goons allegedly affiliated with the winning party have unleashed carnage on hapless citizens who had supported the BJP in the elections. A huge number of people are reported to have been beaten, murdered and sexually assaulted while about 1 lakh of BJP supporters have had to flee their homes, many of them to neighbouring Assam. BJP President Nadda had a few days ago acknowledged that 80,000 supporters had been rendered homeless.
In the light of inaction of the centre to this human-rights violation crisis of humungous proportions, many of the core supporters of the BJP are becoming increasingly critical of the party and the government at the centre. They express dismay and a feeling of betrayal as the party seems to have almost abandoned its own loyalists in West Bengal.
With the intent to understand the feeling of outrage that is currently pervasive, journalist Saumyadipta interacted with many such supporters through the Twitter Spaces feature. In a twitter thread, Saumyadipta has summed up the responses he received through his interactions with them.
In his thread, Saumyadipta has come up with an almost exhaustive list of matters of concern for BJP supporters. Ranging from areas like ineffective media management by the ruling dispensation to the inaction on the ongoing West Bengal genocide, he has come up with a list of issues that would serve as feedback if it is taken account of. There is no guarantee that this feedback will be taken account of and one of the issues mentioned is that the party has just refused to listen.
One complaint was about media management. Unlike other parties, BJP has not managed to have a media ecosystem or nurture media who speak in their favour. A related issue is the choice of spokespersons that are, in the opinion of these supporters, ineffective in conveying the correct message.
An issue that has often been mentioned by many supporters even in the past is the poor optics of hobnobbing with known critics of the party. It is upsetting for ardent BJP loyalists to see some of the BJP leaders being seen happily clicking selfies with the very same biased commentators who bad mouth the party and the government. Some such vitriol-spewing critics also end up getting appointed as brand ambassadors of the party.
Another oft mentioned critique is the excessive dependence of the party on Brand Narendra Modi with many underperforming ministers having no accomplishments of their own to speak about. Nor is the party doing anything to preserve this brand.
One serious complaint is about abandoning Hindutva and replacing it with soft-Hindutva:
Abandoning Hindutva for Soft Hindutva.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
There's no denying the fact that BJP's core voters are Hindus. They are traditional, Sanatani Hindus.
But BJP has taken Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas so seriously that their core votebank is now asking, "what are you doing to preserve our rights?"
That not much has been done for the core voter base composed of Hindus has been said over and over again by many supporters.
One issue mentioned is how BJP is losing touch with organizations that helped create BJP and consequently losing touch with ground realities:
Losing touch with the organisations that helped create BJP.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
RSS, Bajrang Dal etc have helped BJP reach the pinnacle of political power.
BJP is slowly losing touch with them.
In few cases, BJP is in an opposite trajectory.
The party should preserve and promote these organisations
This is relevant in terms of the party’s future prospects in elections at various levels. Also, these organizations such as the Bajrang Dal always considered BJP as the political expression of their activities but many such ground-level organizations which helped BJP win political power are wondering whether BJP is still on the same path and seeking the same objectives:
In straining ties with RSS, Bajrang Dal and Hindu groups, BJP is losing their hold on ground.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
BJP has always benefited by the work of the volunteers of these Hindu organisations. They support BJP because they think BJP is a political expression of their organisation.
Is it still?
A controversial claim by supporters relates to the party claiming credit over certain issues like Ram Mandir and Article 370 abrogation. It is true that other Hindu outfits were also very actively involved in these issues. Many supporters think that the work was done by many Hindu organizations but the sole credit has gone to the BJP:
If you look at the reality then many brownie points don't belong to BJP at all.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
Was the demand of Ram Mandir a BJP initiative?
Did removal of Article 370 first appear in a BJP manifesto?
People who fought for these for decades never sought credit.
They were happy that BJP got it.
Many of these Hindu organizations now work separately and don’t even consider BJP as their political outfit.
Bad selection of ministers in many cases was another complaint that has been voiced for the last 7 years.
BJP’s inaction on the West Bengal genocide of its loyalists has been a matter of outrage ever since the carnage began on May 2nd:
There is major feedback about BJP's weak response to Bengal violence. It's too much out there, I don't need to elaborate on it.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
But the many are startled with the reaction of BJP social media volunteers to the criticism.
They are asking everybody to stop criticising Narendra Modi
They say: Have patience.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
But how does one keep patience when you see deadbodies?
There are several kinds of political responses: Immediate, Delayed, Strategic etc.
Truth: There has been no immediate response from the BJP.
They opted for Gandhian optics like Kadi Ninda and Dharna.
Many want the party to listen, but claim that there has just been top-down communication:
Many on Spaces came just to say that they want to give feedback.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
They want the party to listen. Many have written mails to BJP email IDs.
But there's no feedback mechanism for a party which has been there in power for 7 years with brute majority.
It's just top down communication.
Another concern voiced is that the party is becoming excessively secular.
Supporters are also angry that the party with brute majority has no idea of how to assert its power and instead spends time whining on social media and seeking global validation.
What has additionally irked many is the studied and almost brazen silence from the BJP top brass when the cadres are crying for help:
The studied silence from BJP top brass, when cadres are crying for help, has saddened many.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
Bengal isn't the first time.
People are asking: Are the cries reaching them?
There is no way to know.
But BJP social media volunteers say: Wait, there will be a masterstroke.
An allied complaint is that the party does not listen to its supporters and its response to criticism from supporters is appalling. The parties critics criticize because they care and are well wishers:
Last but not the least: The reaction to honest criticism is appalling.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 8, 2021
When an organisation stops listening to feedback, it ceases to exist. Those who love you, will criticise you the most.
People criticising BJP or Modi aren't betraying.
They are saying things because they care.
The thread thus provides a near exhaustive list of complaints from traditional BJP supporters and serves to provide a concise summary of their concerns. Many of these grievances have been voiced off and on during the 7 years of BJP rule at the centre.
For the last 7 years, not much of the feedback the party received through social media seems to have been acted upon, but one can now only hope that this will change. It is hoped that the party takes this feedback into account and goes for a course corrective action.
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