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Modi scores a hat trick in Gujarat

Swati Bhan, Ahmedabad, Dec 20, 2012, DHNS: 2:09 IST
Indian supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wear masks of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as they celebrate to early reports that their party is leading in the Gujarat assembly elections in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The votes are currently being counted with the final results expected later in the day. AP
Bucking the anti-incumbency and decimating the much talked-about Keshubhai factor, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday romped home to a decisive third successive victory in the Gujarat Assembly elections. The victory catapults him to the centrestage of national politics. The BJP won 115 of the 182 seats in the Assembly, two short of the 2007 results, while the Congress came a distant second with 61 seats.

This win was a hat trick in Gujarat but it definitely has national impact. His victory gave serious jolt to the careers of a few politicians in Gujarat including former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who campaigned hard for Modi’s ouster in the elections.

What made the victory even more forceful was the fact that in the Patel bastion of Saurashtra, the BJP won 30 seats. Though it was eight short of the 2007 score in the region, considering the tri-cornered contest, the results were astounding. The BJP fared well even in the South Gujarat region. Interestingly, the BJP won in eight of the 12 Muslim-dominated constituencies.

Modi addressed party workers at a victory rally outside the party office in Ahmedabad in Hindi indicating his first step towards Delhi. More importantly, the chief minister who had consciously refused to apologise or express regret over the post-Godhra violence in the state in 2002 that claimed over 1,000 lives of Muslims, on Thursday said he “apologised to the six crore Gujaratis for any mistake that may have occurred.”

He thanked his voters for not getting carried away by the advertisement blitzkrieg of the Opposition. “For the past one decade, there has been a campaign of misinformation and this year too it has not been an exception and that is the reason many cannot believe in this kind of result,” said Modi.

Realising that there was a murmur that Modi was a growing cult and many see him as a person larger than life, Modi said, “It is the BJP which has won and it is the people who have voted for the BJP, not Modi.’’

He went on to add that they as leaders were nothing without the support and structure of the party. Avoiding any reference to his national ambition, Modi said that by serving the people of Gujarat, he was serving the people of the nation. “By providing good governance, and a policy of inclusive growth, I am serving the people of this country,’’ he said. He added that if industries were set up in Gujarat and good healthcare centres were in the state, then it was for people of other parts of the country as well to emulate.

Responding to people’s continuous demand on when he would go to Delhi , Modi said to fulfil the wishes of his voters he would definitely go to Delhi for a day on December 27.

Trying to send out a strong message that he did not hold any hard feelings for anybody, Modi went on to visit Keshubhai Patel, who he said was his senior in the political arena and sought his blessings for a successful five year term. Modi also visited his mother Hiraba before meeting his supporters.

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