Modi’s hattrick in Gujarat, Congress win in Himachal
New Delhi/Ahemedabad/Shimla: Assembly election results declared on Thursday show that Narendra Modi-led BJP government is set to return to power for the third consecutive term by securing over 50 percent votes. On the contrary, Congress has managed to get a comfortable majority in 68-member Himachal assembly by crossing the half mark of 34 seats. As the exit-poll surveys had predicted, Prem Kumar Dhumal-led BJP government has been voted out of power in the hill state.
In Gujarat after winning the election, Modi opted to address the gathering in Hindi rather than Gujarati, which he normally favours. As national TV cameras lapped up the action, the normally combative CM steered clear of naming any rival or taking a personal dig in his 45-minute speech.
The euphoric crowd chanted “Delhi, Delhi”, willing him to embark on the road to becoming India’s second Gujarati PM after Morarji Desai, but Modi made light of the suggestion, saying he would “visit Delhi on the 27th of this month, if that was the wish of his supporters”. Modi will be sworn in as CM on December 26.
Any prime ministerial ambitions Modi may harbour face hurdles from his political opponents as well as from detractors within his own party, who see him as a divisive figure that could drive allies away.
The ruling UPA sought to play down the significance of the win, with finance minister P Chidambaram saying the results would have no implications for the 2014 general elections which were “still 16 months away”.
“Today we are celebrating our victory in Gujarat. Let’s focus our discussion on Gujarat,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told NDTV when asked if the party would pick Modi as its PM candidate.
Also, a closer scrutiny of the results showed a worrying rural-urban divide in Gujarat’s politics.
The BJP swept the cities but fared poorly in rural areas, a trend that undermined Modi’s claims on development. It also lost 1 percentage point from its vote share in the last election.
From a strategic standpoint, the Congress improved its performance over last time, winning a couple more seats and holding on to its vote share, analysts said.
In the eyes of many outside the state, Modi’s reputation has yet to recover from communal riots in 2002 that his detractors say he did little to stop.
He has never apologised to the Muslim community for the violence.
On Thursday, he told the crowd: “Give me your blessings so that I don’t make any mistake… so that nobody is hurt by a mistake committed by me,” though it was not clear for what he was seeking forgiveness.
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