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Modi gets thunderous welcome at Gujarat BJP HQ
Savera R Someshwar, outside BJP headquarters, Ahmedabad | December 23, 2007 20:28 IST
"Moodi, Mooo-ooodi, Moodi, Mooo-ooodi�" There was only one call, one icon, one deity, one leader for the Bharatiya Janata Party supporters in Gujarat on Sunday.
In contrast to the peace and quiet that had enveloped the Modi residence in Gandhinagar, the atmosphere at the BJP headquarters in Khanpur, Ahmedabad, was festive. Drums competed with noisy firecrackers, and the garba with impromptu sessions of bhangra.
A dais had been erected in record time outside the BJP office. And, when Modi finally walked on stage, the reverence was palpable; very few rock stars or film personalities would have received the kind of welcome Modi did.
Purshottam Rupala, president of the BJP in Gujarat, kept his speech short, but even then he had to contend with calls of 'Modi, Modi.' And when he invited Om Mathur, the BJP national secretary for Gujarat, to congratulate the workers on their stupendous victory on behalf of Delhi, he was nearly drowned out by the sound of crackers and calls of -- you guessed it! -- 'Modi, Modi!'
When Modi finally got up to speak, the ecstasy the crowd -- people had crammed into every available space on the street -- displayed is something that cannot be easily described. It's then that you realise the clout and the devotion that the man commands; the rockstar status he's been anointed with. You also realise why he did not need anybody else's help to win the Gujarat election.
It was evident in the press conference he had addressed earlier, where he thanked the people of Gujarat for his victory.
When asked -- and it was the only question the media was able to address to him before the conference was closed -- if he would accept his BJP rival Keshubhai Patel's felicitations, he said he had accepted felicitations from all parties and various people including the prime minister. He said he was even willing to accept the felicitations of the media, if they offered it to him.
Later, when he was addressing his supporters, the magic he spun for them was undeniable.
Every word he breathed, every sentence he spoke had to loudly applauded; it was the only way for the thousands who had gathered there to reach out, personally, to him.
And he reached out too, seemingly to each one of them. So when he said he was overwhelmed by the love and enthusiasm they were showing, they chanted his name. When he said the victory was the result of their hard work and sweat, they applauded louder than the firecrackers they had burst to welcome him.
When Modi said he would have a victory rally at the same venue the next evening to celebrate, and to outline his plans in detail, there was a collective groan. They were eager to know the future, but Modi had asked them to wait. And wait they would.
In return, he offered them a glimpse. "We want Gujarat to be an example to the rest of the nation. We have to be a source of support for the nation in it's path to progresss� We have left divisive politics behind. We have left negativity behind. Gujarat has voted for pragati and vikas and safety."
He wove dreams, and the dreams shone in the eyes of his listeners. Even as he mesmerised them, the more rational questions were pushed under the carpet -- What about the Gujarat riots? Did they never happen? Will no one be held accountable?
Under the mask of development, what was Gujarat really signing up for?
Now that he has proved he is bigger than the BJP, at least in Gujarat, will Modi be satisfied with being a big fish in a small pond?
A BJP leader, in a television interview earlier in the day, seems to have indicated the answer. "We have the other states going to the polls. We have the national elections. Narendra Modi [Images] will definitely be part of our campaign strategy."
But will Modi be satisfied with being just part of a 'strategy'?