New Delhi, Oct. 16: The BJP's "unanticipated success" in the Jangipur by-election has prompted its core committee leaders to do a daily assessment of the party's position in various states to identify weak, strong and "potentially" strong regions and try and correct the "shortfalls" wherever possible.
Party insiders were, however, still wary of stating that Jangipur was a one-off showing or fell into an anticipated pattern that suggested the BJP was being increasingly seen as the Congress's only alternative nationally.
"At one time we had nearly 10 per cent votes in Bengal, in the '90s when the NDA was in power," a source said. "That dwindled but instead of going into the causes, we threw our hands up and deduced that there was no chance of an early recovery. This time, our state leaders said the BJP was not going to be a pushover.
"Doubtless, the votes we polled (in the Murshidabad constituency) have pushed up our confidence in Bengal. But more than that, we now believe we have an outer chance of picking up seats even in uncharted territories like Tamil Nadu. If we try hard, that is."
Over the past few days, BJP president Nitin Gadkari has been meeting L.K. Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and other core group members on the stock-taking exercise, "determined not to let (Arvind) Kejriwal's campaign against corruption demoralise him", a source said.
It is learnt that the BJP ' which normally takes media reports and analyses as a "reliable" bellwether of its health or lack of it ' has this time decided to shut off "expert" opinions and surveys.
Sources said it had "convinced" itself that the country's overall political atmosphere was in its favour, though the tipping point for a national switchover from the Congress to the BJP was yet to come.
"Advaniji was right when he said we can't depend on negative voting to pluck the low hanging fruit of power. We have to project ourselves as a credible option. Instead of our past tactics of loudly declaring statements of intent, this time we will first work quietly on the ground, mobilise cadres, raise cadres where none exist and reach out to people directly. The public campaign can begin only when we have built a critical mass of support," a source said.
The BJP's main cause of worry is Uttar Pradesh. The sources admitted that while the Congress had a basket of states to recompense the losses it might suffer in a high-yielding state like Andhra Pradesh or Rajasthan, the BJP's choices were "limited".
Although it is privy to feedback that it might gain in towns that were subject to communal violence recently (Bareilly, Mathura and Pratapgarh), there was no sign yet that the urban upper castes ' its staple in the past ' were abandoning the Samajwadi Party (their favourite in the state elections) in a hurry.
"Brahmins and Thakurs are happy with Mulayam Singh Yadav for opposing reservation for Dalits and tribals in promotions in government jobs," an Uttar Pradesh MLA said.
The other chronic problem is who would lead the BJP to the next election.
Although the issue has not figured in the stock-taking ' and is unlikely to ' the campaign, the sources said, may not be personality-centric as it was in 1998 and 1999, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was spotlighted. "Although (Narendra) Modi ranks on top with our cadres, the question of moving him to the Centre arises if we get at least 180 to 185 seats. Anything less than that will put us out of the race because our secular friends will gang up," a source said.
The BJP, the source added, will aim to touch the 180-185 "magic" figure.
As for expanding the NDA, the party's reading was that the BJD, the AIADMK and the Trinamul Congress were not likely to be part of the prospective third front. "Its fulcrum will be Mulayam, backed by the Left and the TDP. It could attract the DMK and if it has the numbers, the Congress will support it from outside," a source explained.
So although the source claimed the BJP could pull in the BJD and the AIADMK, depending on its numbers, nobody has yet foreseen the scope of a pre-poll alliance with either.