Two days after his party retained power for the sixth time in Gujarat, after staving off a stiff challenge from the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded BJP MPs on Wednesday that they shouldn’t be under any “illusion” that the winning streak in the state “was an easy task.”
Modi was speaking at the BJP Parliamentary party meeting, where he was felicitated for the assembly election wins in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. While the BJP swept the polls in Himachal, its tally in the 182-member Gujarat House fell by 16 seats to 99 while the Congress improved its count by 16 to claim 77 seats.
“The Prime Minister reminded the MPs that it was not an easy achievement. The winning streak in Gujarat has come with lots of hard work and commitment. He said no one should have the illusion that it was an easy task,” sources, who were present at Wednesday’s meeting, told The Indian Express.
Modi, however, told the MPs that he was not worried about the fall in the BJP’s tally in Gujarat as its vote share had gone up and it could win the trust of almost half of the state’s voters, said sources. PM Modi turns emotional at party meet, says, ‘Indira Gandhi had 18 states, BJP has 19’
At one stage during his address, sources said, the Prime Minister turned emotional while referring to the party’s growth and his relationship with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Prime Minister also called for promotion of young faces within and outside the party, sources said. In this context, Modi referred to his association with Amit Shah, who was present at the meeting, and spoke about how he had groomed the party president, who is 14 years younger, said sources.
In his address, Shah, who was congratulated by the Prime Minister at the meeting, praised Modi’s role in BJP’s victory, saying that he worked “like a karyakarta” (party worker) during the campaign and never declined a request to address a public meeting.
Shah also attacked the Congress over its claim of a moral win in Gujarat, saying it was a “laughable exercise” for the Opposition party to see victory in defeat.
Sources said the main focus of Modi’s speech was on “how good the BJP has been doing”. The Prime Minister reminded the MPs that even former prime minister Indira Gandhi had started losing state elections despite the Congress being in its prime. The BJP, Modi said, has been winning most of the assembly elections held since 2014 and added more to its kitty even after being in power for more than three years, sources said.
Striking an emotional note, sources said, Modi recalled how Vajpayee, who is to celebrate his 93rd birthday on December 25, patted him on his back and hugged him warmly after BJP won 21 of the 26 seats in the early 1990s.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Vajpayee’s gesture came at a time when he was a relatively new entrant to the BJP from the RSS, and not widely known in the party, sources said. He also recalled how the party organisation was built in Gujarat with the hard work of a number of leaders.
Party sources said Modi also spoke about the hard work he is putting in for the BJP. “He spoke at length about how he had to come back from Gujarat on December 12 itself after strenuous campaigning and attend official work. He said he had travelled to at least five states, including in the south and northeast, after the campaign ended in Gujarat and attended several meetings including the all-party meet. Sources quoted Modi as saying, “I am working hard for you all day and night. What else I can do now?”
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Prime Minister also pushed for promoting the new generation for a “new India”, a vision for 2022 promoted by his government. He urged party leaders not to be affected by the Opposition’s “disinformation” campaign against the BJP, said Kumar.
Booth-level work, which is the root of a poll campaign, is the “mother of an election victory”, Kumar quoted Modi as saying.
“Modi called for strengthening the party at its roots across the country. He said the work at the booth level is most important, beside people’s blessings to the party, for creating a wave in its favour,” Kumar said.