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I will surely go to Delhi: Modi tells Gujarat

Last updated on: December 21, 2012 04:04 IST

I will surely go to Delhi: Modi tells Gujarat

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Sonil Dedhia and Prasanna D Zore with Reuben V

Sonil Dedhia and Prasanna D Zore with photographer Reuben V, report from Ground Zero as a magnanimous Narendra Modi lauds 60 million Gujaratis for giving him an opportunity to serve them for a third consecutive term, even as he made it clear that like Arjun, his eyes are focussed on the Delhi throne.

For 40 electrifying minutes, Narendra Damodardas Modi played to the national gallery as he, with one eye on Delhi, apologised statesman-like for mistakes (read post-Godhra riots under his benign gaze) he might have made to 60 million Gujaratis in his 11-year rule, asked the people of his state for their blessings so that he doesn't even commit anything wrong against anybody even unintentionally, making them believe convincingly that he draws his strength from them.

He empathised with state government employees who are not too happy with his dictatorial attitude, credited them for Gujarat's development, spoke of his own contribution for the state's economic growth and development as just a small thing.

He asserted categorically, that he would not have any standing without being identified withthe Bharatiya Janata Party, and mixed his speech that left no doubt in anybody's mind that he was setting the stage for a national role even while trying to retain his control over the state.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Photographs: Reuben V/Rediff.com

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'You people know my work'

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Modi also projected himself as a benevolent politician, who wanted to forgive the bitterness that the election campaigning aroused among leaders of the main contestants, and let his audience know that he had built bridges with his fiercest arch-rival in the state, former BJP chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who is considered by many BJP workers as a father figure, when he went to meet him at his home on Thursday.

The man of the moment waved at the crowds and the photographers in his trademark style, showing the victory sign, as he arrived at the BJP headquarters in Khanpur, Ahmedabad.

At the onset, he made it clear that his address, delivered deliberately in Hindi, was meant for the national audience when he asked (filled to the brim with sarcasm) his supporters, to cooperate with the media.

"You people know my work. It will not matter if you don't get to see me today. You can just hear me. Let the media also get a chance to do some work at least now," indicating that the media should stop criticising him and focus on his development agenda.

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Photographs: Sonil Dedhia/Rediff.com

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'I apologise to six crore Gujaratis'

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The 5,000-plus strong crowd squeezed themselves atop terraces, on the parapets of buildings, atop trees, and every place possible which could get them a view of the man who they want to become India's next prime minister.

Dressed in a kurta that was remarkably softer than the shades of saffron he usually wears, with a beige shawl on his left shoulder which he played with for dramatic effects, Modi made a fashion statement as well as a please-all speech that he knew the national media was beaming across the country.

In a move that may be seen as an overture by Modi to India's largest minority whose support he will desperately need to succeed in his bid for Delhi's throne, Modi apologised to 60 million Gujaratis (that includes Muslims who suffered in the riots after the Godhra train carnage that engulfed Gujarat in 2002) for mistakes he might have made as a human being, appeasing the demand for an apology so vociferously made by India's liberals and intellectuals.

"I apologise to six crore Gujaratis. Forgive me if I have done any wrong. You people are an incarnation of the divine. I seek your blessings so that in the days and years ahead I don't do any wrong even by mistake. If you give me these blessings, there will never be any mistakes," Modi told the enthusiastic gathering.

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Photographs: Reuben V/Rediff.com

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'Pundits just cannot digest the progress made by Gujarat'

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Taking a dig at the national English television news channels who apparently shape opinion in India, Modi asked these political pundits to now give credit to the aspirations of the Gujarati people and their maturity in electing the BJP to power without falling prey to the Congress's 'negative' campaign.

Ridiculing Congress spokespersons and independent political pundits for not acknowledging the BJP's victory in Gujarat, Modi said, "I was listening to some political pundits and they refused to accept their defeat. In fact, they said the result was a draw just because the Congress won in Himachal Pradesh. I would like to tell them that even if you add the seats of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, we are still ahead of them."

"These pundits just cannot digest the progress made by Gujarat," he said and asked his supporters to pray for their well-being because "Main kisi ka bura nahi chahta hoon (I don't wish ill for others)."

Keeping senior party leaders on tenterhooks about his national intentions, the Gujarat chief minister, in half jest, created a flutter when he said that he would definitely go to Delhi if the people so wished.

"I will surely go to Delhi...," he said, as he paused, waiting for the popular reaction from the crowd. "... for a day on December 27 and come back," he said proving that he can dexterously use humour to couch as well as reveal his real intentions.

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Photographs: Sonil Dedhia/Rediff.com

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'This is the BJP's victory'

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In the same breath, Modi categorically asserted that he wanted to work in Gujarat for the next five years and take the state to new heights of growth and development.

"When I won in 2002, people thought that I would initiate some reforms and sit back and relax. But that didn't happen. When I was re-elected in 2007 people again thought that I might take the victory lightly, but I proved them wrong," Modi said, declaring, "Today, when I have been re-elected for the third time I make a promise that I will work harder than before for Gujarat."

Modi, who will be sworn in as the chief minister for the fourth time on December 26, said the party workers' euphoria was natural as they had worked hard for the last six months so that the BJP emerges triumphant in the battle for Gujarat.

"I would like to thank all my party workers who have been a big support. This victory is not Narendra Modi's victory. This is the BJP's victory."


Image: The crowd at Modi's rally
Photographs: Sonil Dedhia/Rediff.com

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