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'Television, Internet changed it all'
Savera R Someshwar in Khanpur, Ahmedabad
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December 23, 2007 10:54 IST
At 10 in the morning, under a benevolent winter sun, the Bharatiya Janata Party's headquarters in Khanpur, the heart of bustling Ahmedabad, resounds with crackers. As the leads trickle in the BJP's favour in the assembly election, cries of Vande Mataram and Jai Sri Ram reverberate through the air.

The trend, as far as the BJP is concerned, is clearly in favour of Narendra Modi [Images], perhaps the most controversial chief minister the nation has had.

Observers feel the result will be an indication of the trend that will be seen in the national election scheduled for 2009, but expected to take place as early as next year.

"Television and the Internet has changed it all," says Gujarat BJP General Secretary Vijay Rupani, who has been at the party office since 7.45 am.

"People are sitting at home and following the results. Besides, many of our workers are scattered at counting stations in various parts of the city."

Now, of course, with victory in sight, BJP workers and supporters are heading towards the party headquarters.

Ahmedabad has 11 seats waiting to be won, but the one generating the most interest is Maninagar, Modi's constituency. His Congress opponent Union minister Dinsha Patel is expected to lose.

And, if you listen to Rupani and Gujarat BJP spokesperson Yamal Vyas, they will assure you there is absolutely no cause for worry. "Tension ki koi baat hi nahin hain; in fact, it's more a sense of anticipation."

According to Rupani, the BJP will win at least 120 seats; Vyas pegs it at more than 127, which was the BJP tally in the 2002 election.

"The only seats where we will face problems are where the Muslims dominate," says Rupani.

"Obviously, they are not going to vote for us. But, even there, the winning or losing margin will be very thin."

Modi is following the results at his home and BJP workers are not sure if, or when, he will drop in at the party office.

Neither are the police, but they are on their toes. Director General of Police Brajesh Kumar Jha, who has dropped in for a quick survey of the security arrangements, says, "We are keeping a watch. We have had our men here since last night, and we are just waiting to get a sense of what the chief minister will do. The minute we know he is heading here, we will immediately increase security."

Meanwhile, as the leads come in, BJP supporters here are huddled around the television set. Every lead that is in the BJP's favour leads to a minor hurrah, the cheers a bit more if it is a seat that belonged to the Congress in the last election.

As for former chief minister Keshbubhai Patel, who has been given a showcause notice by the BJP, and party veterans Kashiram Rana, Vallabhai Kathiria and Somabhai Patel, who have been suspended, no one wants to talk about it.

"It is not a matter of joy," says Yamal Vyas. "No one is happy when there is infighting in the party. But they have been creating trouble for some time, and some kind of action was bound to be taken against them."

"The day after tomorrow is Atalji (former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee)'s birthday," says Rupani. "We are planning Narendrabhai's swearing-in ceremony on the same day."

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