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The outcome of the assembly polls will be keenly watched for one crucial test: did Narendra Modi play a catalytic role for his party or not? Will a convincing win for the BJP in these states set the stage for a successful run of its Lok Sabha campaign plan under him?
From being seen by his rivals as a ‘non-factor’ for the current round of assembly polls, Modi emerged not just a key campaigner but the one who could draw additional votes for the BJP wherever he held ralllies, its leaders believe.
Modi clocked more hours than most senior leaders, showing his readiness to face his first acid test. BJP insiders say the clamour for his appearance quadrupled in the last few days of electioneering forcing him to re-adjust his schedule to be available for more areas in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which went to polls earlier and, in Rajasthan where voting took place last Sunday.
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“Modi strengthened the anti-Congress mood wherever he went. After a long time, we have had someone who changes chemistry and mood of the people at once,” BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told HT.
“People wanted to hear him. The demand from BJP candidates kept pouring,” said Naqvi.
Read More: Cong will retain power, no Modi wave in Raj, says Gehlot
The Congress’ bid to push the snooping row involving Modi’s administration did not dampen the campaign, according to BJP managers.
In Delhi, Modi’s appearances at different places in support of BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan in the last two days almost resembled a Lok Sabha poll campaign, in terms of intensity, aggression and crowd management, party leaders said.
A win in Delhi will also be credited to Nitin Gadkari, who as the in-charge painstakingly worked for projecting Harsh Vardhan after Vijay Goel-led BJP campaign failed to take off and brought all warring leaders together for a tough fight, BJP insiders said. Sushma Swaraj too will be credited for addressing more than 50 public meetings in the Capital.
Ironically, three months ago, Modi’s rivals in BJP had wanted his elevation as the prime ministerial candidate delayed till the outcome of these elections, lest it cast a shadow.
Read More: Modi a big blunder as BJP's PM candidate, says Soz