Gujarat voted for the BJP under chief minister Narendra Modi for the third straight term, but did not probably give him enough to catapult him as his party’s prime ministerial candidate in 2014. The state also clearly voted out a third force while accepting Modi’s development plank, but did not totally reject the Congress’s dream-home either.
The BJP’s final tally of 115 seats out of a total 182 indicated that Gujaratis were ready to take the ruling party’s inclusive growth story forward while also voting for the personality cult that was a strong feature of the assembly elections held this month. The state also showed that it did not mind taking along brave leaders such as Keshubhai Patel.
Besides Patel, Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela won, although the party’s chief Arjun Modhwadia and its legislature party leader Shaktisinh Gohil, lost. Even BJP state president RC Faldu lost.
Political observers said this suggests that the opposition in the new Gujarat assembly could be RSS-powered, with Vaghela leading the Congress and Keshubhai, sitting on the same side.
Although Modi described the victory as a “hat-trick”, the Congress bettered its score to 61, two seats more than 2007. Modi, speaking outside the BJP headquarters in Khanpur, mocked “poll pundits for getting it wrong” and asked people to “forgive him for any mistake that he might have made” as the crowd began to shout “NM for PM” towards the end of his speech.
This is the closest Modi has come to apologising after the 2002 Godhra riots.
Repeatedly crediting “voters” for his victory, Modi called the 6 crore Gujaratis, “God” and asked them to “bless him so that he does not make any mistake in the future” and added that the BJP was his “maa” and went on to thank the “mothers and sisters” and “youth,” covering the BJP’s loyal votebank. He also specially thanked the “karmayogis” (government employees) as he said 75% of the postal ballots were in the BJP’s favour.
While the BJP in Delhi was guarded in its comments about Modi being the party’s PM candidate for 2014, Modi made no bones about the fact that this verdict was a launchpad for his vault to the national capital. He asked voters to “send out this message of development to the country... This victory is for the people of India. For those in Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, wherever in the country and who want development,” Modi said.