Workers on Tuesday get the Sardar Patel Navrangpura Stadium in Ahmedabad ready for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in. (AFP)
Gandhinagar, Dec. 25: Narendra Modi today claimed “team spirit” and not individual “charisma” had helped his party win the Gujarat battle, presenting a side seldom seen of the BJP leader as he geared for his coronation as chief minister for another term.
The uncharacteristic comments from Modi, whose style of functioning has often been resented, came after he was elected leader of the legislative party, paving the way for his swearing-in at Ahmedabad tomorrow.
Among those scheduled to attend the ceremony are party chief Nitin Gadkari, L.K. Advani, Parliament Opposition leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, and the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Punjab Jayalalithaa and Parkash Singh Badal.
Jaitley, the party’s central observer from Delhi, addressed Modi as “chief minister” even before he had been formally elected leader by the newly elected BJP legislators.
“We are fortunate to have a credible leadership in Gujarat which our political rivals could not match. Which is why their campaign was faceless. The best thing about Modi’s leadership was that it emerged even stronger when faceless opponents launched a campaign against him,” he said.
Modi refused to take the credit. “I have no such illusion that I won from Maninagar constituency solely because of my charisma. Ye Modi ka kamal nahi. BJP workers’ hard work hai (this was not Modi’s charisma, it was the hard work of BJP workers),” he said.
“Our party,” Modi went on, “does not believe in membership but in relationship. Once someone joins the BJP, he becomes our family member. His DNA matches with our members and we become one, our DNA becomes one.”
Lauding the commitment and the “team spirit” of party cadres, he said “we have to reach to the last man who is waiting for us”.
Some sources interpreted the emphasis on work as Modi’s way of signalling that he would be a hard taskmaster in his fourth stint as chief minister after leading his party to victory earlier this month.
The BJP won 115 seats in the 182-member Assembly.
Modi, too, appeared to hint as much when he said “we will have to break old records and set new ones”. The portfolio of a minister in his cabinet, he said, is not a bed of roses. “I had made my ministers run and camp in 4,000-odd villages which neither the Congress nor the media ever noticed,” he added.
Modi’s re-election as legislature party leader came on a day Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned 88.
Some observers said it was hardly a coincidence that Modi, who nurses ambitions of a national role, chose to get elected as leader of the BJP legislature party on the birthday of the former Prime Minister, known for his liberal image.