BJP defends leaders, RSS chief over Bihar loss

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) The BJP on Monday defended its top leadership as well as the RSS and its chief Mohan Bhagwat for the party’s humiliating defeat in the Bihar assembly polls, saying the party as a whole wins or loses elections.

“The party collectively wins or loses elections,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said during an interaction with the media after the BJP’s parliamentary board meeting here following the party’s poor performance in Bihar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spearheaded the election campaign and addressed 26 rallies in Bihar where the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance managed to win just 58 of the total 243 seats in the assembly.

Replying to a question, Jaitley refuted Bhagwat’s remark on reservation had a potential impact on the elections result for the BJP alliance.

“No election is decided on one statement. It is a different kind of mathematics,” Jaitley said.

He said the party, since the Mandal Commission, had accepted the concept of reservation on social consideration and the same was the stand of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

BJP MP Hukumdev Narayan Yadav and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi held Bhagwat’s comments, favouring a review of the country’s policy of quota for the backward castes, responsible for the party’s fate.

“Mohan Bhagwat’s comment at the time of election filled the backward castes and Dalits with mistrust for the BJP. People showed their faith in Modi… they came in thousands at his rallies, but the RSS chief’s comments shook people to the core,” Yadav told the media.

“People get the impression that the BJP only does what the Sangh (RSS) wants,” he added.

When contacted by IANS, Yadav said: “I have said whatever I had to… what else do you want me to say on it?”

The BJP’s Kangra MP Shanta Kumar, meanwhile, denied making any comment on the RSS call for revision of the reservation policy of the government.

“I did not say anything of that sort. It’s (reported statement) wrong. What I said was that it was the people’s verdict and we must introspect,” he told IANS.

Manjhi too blamed Bhagwat and BJP president Amit Shah for the debacle of the alliance in Bihar.

“Bhagwat’s statement on review of reservation for Dalits and OBCs harmed the NDA’s prospects as it was made one of the main issues by the Grand Alliance,” Manjhi told the media.

He said the issue of reservation in educational institutions and in jobs badly affected the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

He said Shah’s statement that firecrackers would be burst in Pakistan if the BJP lost the Bihar polls also played a major role in the NDA’s defeat. “The statement only helped the Grand Alliance.”

Meanwhile, Jaitley said his party respects the people’s mandate in Bihar and promised to play the role of constructive opposition to enable the new government fulfill people’s aspirations.

“We accept the challenge, will play the role of opposition in Bihar,” he said.

He said the party underestimated the political arithmetic of the Grand Alliance of the Janata Dal-United, RJD and the Congress and described their grand unity as the reason for the NDA’s loss in Bihar.

“The main cause of our defeat in Bihar is the coming together of the opponents. We had thought the Mahagathbandhan would not be able to consolidate their votes as a front. This view turned out to be wrong,” Jaitley said.

He accepted the fact that vote transferability was better in the Grand Alliance compared to the NDA.

“Our assumption that the three parties of the Grand Alliance wouldn’t be able to transfer their votes fully was wrong,” he said.

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