By Faraz Ahmad
New Delhi : The Uttar Pradesh assembly election results Friday have poured cold water on the Bharatiya Janata Party's plans to return to power in Delhi after "conquering" Lucknow.
At the end of the day, the sole consolation for the BJP is that United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her MP son Rahul Gandhi too failed to click in the country's most populous state.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "We had campaigned for the defeat of (outgoing chief minister) Mulayam Singh Yadav. There were two alternatives. People chose Mayawati as the alternative."
Prakash Javadekar, also a party spokesman, echoed: "We wanted to throw out Mulayam. It was a triangular fight. The people threw out Mulayam and chose BSP.''
But the results have also put a stop to the party's winning spree – this year it won the assembly elections in Punjab and Uttarakhand and the municipal elections in Delhi.
Enthused by this trend, top BJP leaders including Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani and president Rajnath Singh had predicted that the road to Delhi leads through Lucknow – implying that once they had formed their government in Uttar Pradesh, the party will lead National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to power at the national level.
Rajnath Singh had even announced that Advani will be the party's prime ministerial candidate.
The party had requisitioned all its prominent leaders in the two-month election campaign. Thus, Rajnath Singh addressed 209 rallies covering "almost every district" of the state, according to party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
The BJP's chief ministerial candidate Kalyan Singh addressed 230 public meetings while Advani addressed 120.
Other BJP leaders who campaigned in the heat and dust included former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Jaswant Singh, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha, Naqvi, Gopinath Munde and Ananth Kumar. From the state there were Kalraj Mishra, Vinay Katiyar, Lalji Tandon and Kesrinath Tripathi.
The BJP chief ministers, Narendra Modi of Gujarat, Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh, Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan, B.C. Khanduri from Uttarakhand, Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi were also there and addressed over 100 rallies.
To attract more people to the rallies, the party also employed its stock of film stars, Shatrughan Sinha, Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna as well as cricketer-turned-TV personality and MP Navjot Singh Siddhu, who addressed over 200 rallies among them.
However, they failed in attracting crowds.
Vajpayee, very popular in the state, addressed only one rally in his constituency of Lucknow after much coaxing and persuasion, but the meeting remained a low-key affair.
Going all-out to capture Lucknow, the party had distributed a communally charged video CD for its election campaign, which only succeeded in landing the party in trouble with the Election Commission.