The BJP headquarters, 11, Ashoka Road, had seldom witnessed such bonhomie and celebration for any senior leader as it did on Thursday evening. A triumphant-looking Narendra Modi rode in - after a long gap - to be feted for his hat-trick win in Gujarat.
As party workers showered
rose petals and chanted "PM, PM" throughout his 30-minute stay and party president Nitin Gadkari dubbed his victory a "big gift" for BJP, Modi did not hide his glee. But he did not respond to the slogan either.
Instead, the Gujarat CM, who was in Delhi to attend a meeting of chief ministers chaired by the Prime Minister, sought to offer his first advice to party cadres. "As a BJP worker, whatever responsibility is given to me by the party I will fulfill them," he said.
He also spoke about the "important years" he spent at the party headquarters in a small kholi (room) as one of the many faceless workers who are the party's "real strength".
Earlier, at the National Development Council (NDC) meet, many Congress ministers observed a change in Modi. "Unlike past NDC meets, Modi was not sarcastic and was soft and decent," a minister said.
Reacting to plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia's suggestion to peg the growth target at 8%, Modi said, "Significantly lowering the target in the 12th plan will add further to the mood of despondency and pessimism in the country and cast increasing doubts on the sustainability of the Indian growth story."
Another Congress minister said the government had taken Modi's suggestions in a positive spirit. Some of the chief ministers also praised Modi, but in hushed voices.
Other leaders commented that Modi's body language and careful avoidance of harsh words in his speech indicated that he wanted to project himself as a leader above petty party politics and was serious about development of the country.
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