In Gujarat, Narendra Modi’s victory was never the big issue, the margin of victory was. Simply because he had nothing to prove to the Congress, he had a point or two make to the national leadership of his own party. A resounding victory here would have sent the message that he has completely demolished the Congress in the state and that is credential enough for him to be the prime ministerial candidate of the party in the 2014 elections. After being in the campaign mode for five years since 2007 in the state and with nothing spectacular to show for it, he loses some traction with the party’s top leadership. He will find it difficult to muscle his way to the top. Moreover, the reduced margin will embolden his rivals in the NDA. They might ask `so what if Modi has won three elections? There are other leaders who have done it too’. The party would be more worried about its fate in Gujarat after he shifts to the centre. There are chances that the Gujarat BJP will slip into factional battles – the indications are there already - and go the Congress way. A huge victory margin would have served as cushion. The party will now have to think hard about him.
Sometimes it isn’t just about flexing your muscles but proving your strength. For Modi this was the first election he was fighting without the taint of being accused of being complicit in the 2002 c ommunal riots. He fought the elections selling voters his idea of development in the state and promises of future development, something that has been been accepted by voters across the state. Modi is a man who has resonance across urban centres in the country and the support of rank and file of his party across the nation. He has now shown that he can win elections without needing communalism. The victory margin in this case is irrelevant, if the party is willing, Modi is all set to storm the national political scene sooner rather than later.