Gandhinagar, Dec. 16: Crowned the undisputed leader of the BJP legislature party in Gujarat, Narendra Modi said the “mantra” of his government would be “appeasement of none and justice to all” and sought to temper the expectations of ministerial aspirants.
Modi will be sworn in on December 22 and the ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.
Addressing the legislature party meeting after being elected, Modi told the 126 newly-inducted MLAs that the massive mandate the party has got points at its responsibility to give a “new direction to the state’’.
He told them to serve the people, not be too ambitious and not hanker after posts and perks — a clear indication that all aspiring legislators will not get a berth in the Cabinet.
Reminding them of their duties as elected representatives, Modi told the MLAs to be accommodative.
“Remember, the government that we will form soon belongs to those who have vehemently opposed us. The Congress may be our rival, it is not our enemy. We hope the Congress will play the role of a constructive Opposition party,” he said.
Modi, however, could not resist slinging barbs at the Congress for launching what he said was a negative campaign against him from day one.
Modi said the tragedy of the Congress is that despite having suffered such a humiliating defeat, the party is unable to accept it gracefully.
“The Congress leaders are putting forward stupid arguments to rationalise their defeat: that the prevailing insecurity among the minority community and the Hindu card led to their defeat. If that is so, why has there been more than 80 per cent polling at certain polling booths'” asked former chief minister Keshubhai Patel.
Speaking on the occasion, BJP national president M. Venkaiah Naidu said Modi’s election as the leader of the BJP legislature party was a mere formality as the people of Gujarat have already elected him and the party has projected him as chief minister.
Stressing the need for co-ordination between the government and the party and interaction with grassroots level workers, Naidu told the MLAs to evolve a regular and dynamic mechanism.
Later talking to reporters, Naidu said the BJP’s victory in Gujarat had encouraged the party to make preparations for the Lok Sabha elections in 2004. The BJP has set a target of 300 seats in the general elections.
Replying to a question, the BJP president said the party was neither following a hardline nor a softline. “We are following the original line,” he said.
Attacking the Congress for playing the Hindu card and communalising politics, Naidu claimed that “even on the basis of our past performance, the BJP would have secured absolute majority. But we are thankful to the Congress which has helped us increase our seats by carrying out a negative campaign which the people of Gujarat have rejected”.
“The BJP’s Gujarat unit was not only fighting against the Congress but the entire machinery of the Congress and the NGOs which campaigned against us.
“The battle was not localised, which is why the Gujarat elections were being closely monitored by the nation and the world as well,” he added.