'Yes, our party did not win a seat here but I will serve the state with great vigour'
Having won a massive mandate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said political parties and pundits failed to gauge the public mood ahead of the Lok Sabha election and thanked the electorate for reposing confidence in the saffron party.
In his first public engagement after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party to a grand victory in the general election, retaining power for a successive term, Modi said he made Kerala his first stop after the win despite having no MP from the state since it was as dear to him as his constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
Terming the just-concluded Lok Sabha election a "festival of democracy," Modi lauded and thanked the electorate of Kerala for their contribution to it.
The country has seen that "people are God" in elections, he said at the 'Abhinandan Sabha' organised by the BJP's Kerala unit.
Earlier, he offered prayers at the famed Lord Krishna temple here.
"Political parties and political pundits could not gauge people's mood. So did those involved in conducting (poll) surveys. But people gave a strong mandate to the BJP," he said and thanked the voters for choosing his party.
The recent polls proved that people rejected "negativity" and accepted positivity, he said.
"The 2019 Lok Sabha elections marked a victory for positivity and a resounding rejection of negativity. With this spirit, let us all work together to build a new India," Modi said.
The prime minister's statement assumes significance in the wake of Congress president Rahul Gandhi reviving his attack on Modi accusing him and the BJP of spreading "hatred and intolerance" in the country.
"Modi might have money. He might have media by his side... He might have rich friends with him but the Congress party will continue to fight against the intolerance created by the BJP," Gandhi had said Friday holding a roadshow in his Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency to thank voters for electing him.
On making Kerala his first stop post the Lok Sabha polls win, Modi said some would have even wondered why he chose the southern state despite the BJP "not opening its account" from here in parliament.
"I come to Kerala with a deep sense of gratitude to the people," the prime minster said, adding "Yes, our party did not win a seat here but I will serve the state with great vigour and deepen the bond with its wonderful citizens."
Modi chose to wear traditional Kerala dress during his first visit to the state after assuming the charge as prime minister for a second consecutive term. He said an elected leader is common to all.
"Elections have their place in democracy and it is the responsibility of the inner to take care of the 130 crore people. Those who made us win or those ho did not, both are our (people). Kerala is as dear to me as Varanasi," Modi said.
The prime minister said the BJP is not working for mere electoral politics and is keen on building the country and ensuring that India gets its place of pride in the international arena.
"We are not in politics to only form a government. We are here to serve the people of the country. People choose their 'jan pratinidhi' for five years, but we are 'jan sevak', committed to serving the people life long," Modi said.
On the Nipah virus issue, he said the Centre was working "shoulder-to-shoulder" with the Kerala government to provide all required assistance.
"Cases of Nipah virus have surfaced in Kerala. I assure the Centre's full support to the state government and the people of Kerala regarding all facilities required to tackle the situation. The state and Centre will work shoulder-to-shoulder to fight the spread of Nipah virus," he said.
Urging the people not to panic, the prime minister also said the Centre was monitoring the situation closely.
In his speech, Modi sought to bring emotional link the people of his home state Gujarat have with the places of significance with Lord Krishna including Dwarka, Guruvayur and Udupi.
"I have got a chance to come to this land of Guruvayur once again. This is a source of inspiration," he said in his speech made soon after offering prayers at famous Lord Krishna temple.
The prime minister said his government has has made a separate ministry for fishermen and animal husbandry to strengthen the economy of the country's coastal and rural areas.
He also said the government has decided to run a vaccination drive across the country for animals to eliminate ailments like the foot and mouth disease.
Modi urged the Commuist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic front government in Kerala to implement his government's flagship health initiative, Ayushman Bharat.
Later in the day, the prime minister left for the Maldives from the Cochin International Airport, a Kerala government official said.