Fresh from BJP's massive electoral victory in the Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi today had a dig at the Opposition saying parties outside the ruling coalition may have to stitch an alliance to formally attain the status of an Opposition.
Addressing a large gathering on the banks of Ganga during his first visit to this ancient temple town after winning the Varanasi seat by a huge margin of 3.7 lakh votes, he said, "So far, the country has always been ruled either by the Congress or, except for the period under (Atal) Vajpayee's rule, by loose coalitions headed by people formerly associated with the Congress."
"This election marks a new beginning even on that count," Modi said in his nearly 30-minute-speech at the Dashashwamedh Ghat.
"The people of the country have given a tight slap to all those parties which are not with the NDA. Now all these parties may end up forming an alliance just to attain the status of a formally recognisable opposition," he said.
The main Opposition party must hold at least 1/10th of the total Lok Sabha seats. Congress suffered its worst electoral defeat bagging just 44 seats.
"This is a turning point in the country's history as for the first time the leadership is going to fall in the hands of a generation which was born in the post-Independence era," Modi said.
Modi also expressed his gratitude to the people of Varanasi for his huge victory from here while venting resentment over the fact that a disagreement with the local administration had prevented him from addressing the people of the temple town before it went to polls.
"It is wonderful that the people of Kashi helped me get such a huge win even though I did not get the chance to appeal to the voters to vote for me. I came here to file my nomination, barely managed to visit my election office and, thereafter, all that remained was a silent bond between myself and the people of Kashi.
"Through their votes, the people of Kashi put their stamp of approval on this silent bond," said Modi, who was accompanied by party President Rajnath Singh and senior leader and his close aide Amit Shah, among others.
Earlier, Modi spoke at length on the need to cleanse the Ganga, the ancient temple town of Varanasi and the entire country.
"Five years from now, we will be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. A clean Ganga, a clean Kashi and a clean India would be the most befitting tribute to the Mahatma, who always laid great emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene," he said.
Modi said that his dream was to restore the past glory of Kashi and Bharat, which enjoyed the status of "Rashtra Guru" and "Vishwa Guru" in the ancient past.
He also stressed on the need for giving due respect to all those who sacrificed their lives fighting for the freedom of the country and expressed his displeasure over the failure of successive governments since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru to bring back the ashes of revolutionary leader Shyamji Krishna Varma, who died in Geneva.
"It was only after I became the chief minister of Gujarat that I got an opportunity to bring back Shyamji Krishna Varma's ashes, which he had stated to be his last wish. I got tremendous satisfaction from this act of deference towards a fellow Gujarati.
"It was a similar spiritual impulse that impelled me to contest parliamentary elections from this city, which is synonymous with the holy Ganga," Modi added.
Image: Narendra Modi along with BJP leaders during the Ganga aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat
Photograph: Sandeep Pal