On his arrival at the BJP headquarters on 11 Ashoka Road in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was given a rousing reception. His black bulletproof car looked pink and red, covered by rose petals showered by enthusiastic party workers. It was a moment of joy for them for having retained Gujarat for an unprecedented sixth consecutive term and snatching Himachal Pradesh from the Congress.
But somewhere, among sections of BJP workers and leaders, there was a nagging feeling that the victory in Gujarat was not as big as they had expected. After all, since the time Modi was declared as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in July 2013 — all the elections which BJP fought with the exception of Bihar and Delhi — the party had increased its victory margin. Gujarat was Modi’s home state and it was expected that the same phenomenon would be repeated here.
BJP won with increased vote percentage than in 2012 but with a reduced margin vis-à-vis Congress and the final result tally said 99 for BJP and 80 for Congress and its allies in the 182-member state Assembly. There is no denying the fact that Modi had won Gujarat for his party, but for his magic and emotional appeal to the people, the party would have lost it. He could well have recalled the old Hindi song “hum laye hain toofan se kashti nikal ke….” But then Modi in his characteristic style dedicated this victory to party president Amit Shah and lakhs of workers in the state.
His message to anyone in the party’s rank and file who had any doubts about the scale of victory in Gujarat was simple -- don’t be apologetic about the winning numbers. The fact that the party (Modi) had defied 27 years of anti-incumbency and won it for another five-year term should be a matter of pride.
“This is not an ordinary victory. It's special. Some people can't digest BJP victory, don't waste your time on them and just focus on New India by 2022,” Modi said. He later tweeted: “The victory in Gujarat is special. Starting from 1989, people of Gujarat have been blessing BJP in every Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha election. It is an honour to be serving Gujarat for so many years. We will continue to work for Gujarat’s growth."
The victory in Gujarat is special. Starting from 1989, people of Gujarat have been blessing BJP in every Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha election. It is an honour to be serving Gujarat for so many years. We will continue to work for Gujarat’s growth.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 18, 2017
The central theme of his thanksgiving speech revolved around three issues – first, that the election results had conclusively settled the debate on misgivings Delhi-based “intelligentsia” had about GST and perceived anger of people on the issue. His argument was urban bodies election in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat Assembly election and the Maharashtra local bodies election had proved the sceptics wrong. Modi had a reason to make this claim. The BJP won all 12 Assembly seats in Surat, a city which hit national headlines on the basis of perceived anger of the business community and the possibility of them voting against the BJP.
Second, he expressed his concern over the way the Gujarati society had split on caste lines, which was considered to be a sad preserve of states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and was threatening to penetrate into Gujarat with the same ferocity. Modi went at length appealing to the people of Gujarat that the society should remain one and should not allow the divisive sentiments derail the developmental process and disturb social harmony. Though he didn’t name the Patidar community — a section of the community as led by Hardik Patel — and their anger against the death of 14 young boys in police firing during the reservation agitation and resentment among the Dalits after the Una incident, it was more than clear which sections of society he was addressing. Patidars have been hugely supportive of the BJP since 1985 and the ruling party couldn’t afford their alienation. So was in the case of Dalits.
He knew that it would be difficult for Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to address their concerns as Modi could have done, he thus thought it appropriate to make an appeal directly to the people. To further boost the morale of party workers and leaders that they could reunite segments of society which had lately become disenchanted with it, Modi said though the election was fought between the BJP and the Congress on the ground, there were various other forces which sowed the seeds of discord for electoral gains. It was now incumbent on the party and the government to address to those concerns.
Third, it was yet another occasion when Modi spoke of rising aspirations among all sections of society and need of governments of the day to come true to those expectations. If BJP poll catchphrase was Hu Chu Gujarat, Hu chu vikas (I am Gujarat, I am development) to counter Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s initial catchphrase (albeit borrowed) against BJP, Vikas Gano Thyo Che, today Modi went a step forward making his party workers shout a new slogan with him, “Jeetega bhai jitega, vikas he jitega."
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Updated Date: Dec 18, 2017 23:08:38 IST