Modi predicts huge BJP win
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Modi predicts huge BJP win

Amid reports of high polling all over Gujarat, Modi's confidence swelled. He refused to cite figures but predicted an unprecedented victory for BJP.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2002 00:37 IST

Amid reports of high polling all over Gujarat, Narendra Modi's confidence swelled. He refused to cite figures but predicted an abhootpurv (unprecedented) victory for the BJP.

After a round of the city, including his constituency Maninagar, where allegations of “doctored” voters' lists did not seem to perturb Modi, he made himself comfortable at the BJP's central office at Khanpur. There, he watched his own and Shankarsinh Vaghela's sound-bytes to a TV channel, hosting his guests to a Gujarati meal served with cups of hot milk.

In comparison, the mood was a trifle sombre at the Congress headquarters here. AICC general secretary Kamal Nath refused to trust the exit polls. He said the high turnout would be to the Congress' advantage: "This time, our mobilisation was as good as the BJP's."

But barring the Muslim factor — and its contribution to high polling — Nath's assertions flew in the face of past results. High turnout has been the Congress' bane since 1990. Polling was below 50 per cent when the party won in 1980 and '85.

It's perhaps for this reason that Modi seemed confident of winning Maninagar even without the votes of hundreds of his 'captive supporters', who found their names missing from the rolls.

Clearly not in a mood to take potshots at the Commission, he stuck to the stock reply: "Your question is right but only Lyngdoh can answer it."

In between, Modi made his point by inviting to his swearing-in ceremony a group of party workers who came to take his leave: "Shapath grahan key din jazroor aana."

All through the 30-minute chat with the Hindustan Times, the Hindutva hardliner appeared experimenting with a kind of image transformation after running a campaign that was a admix of jingoistic, religious rhetoric. So much so that he avoided mentioning Godhra while looking back on his poll tactics.

The Congress, Modi said, went to the people without a formidable agenda or a leader who could appeal to the masses. "They had no cogent answers to the questions I raised about the issue (read Godhra and the resultant violence). They were dumb-founded when I said that there will be fireworks in Pakistan if the BJP loses." He said the Opposition party helped him by pitting 12 CMs against his lone challenge.

But regardless of his post-poll swagger, Modi's vindication lies only in a huge win. A marginal victory for his party would, in moral terms, be a triumph of the Congress.

First Published: Dec 13, 2002 00:37 IST