Narendra Modi may have been anointed the principal opposition party BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but he does not seem to be in a hurry to relinquish his post as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and has not even named his successor.
According to sources, he has shot down suggestions from sections in the party for him to shift to Delhi even though he has been drafted with larger national responsibilities. In fact, he held a four-hour long meeting with State BJP leaders on Saturday night, saying his target was to get 272-plus seats in the Lok Sabha elections.
The sources said Mr. Modi wants to consolidate Gujarat further, very much like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and not “make the same mistake” that former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati made by travelling across the country after winning a record victory in the 2007 U.P. elections. “She abrogated the government to her bureaucrats and ministers, thinking she had a good chance to be the Prime Minister but that misfired,” a U.P. BSP leader told The Hindu.
In Gujarat, Mr. Modi strategically used his clout to the fullest in the Assembly as well as the Lok Sabha elections. His target now is to get all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. “This is what has been Nitish Kumar’s strategy, as against that of Mayawati. And Modi is following that,” a BJP leader said. “You secure your corner strongly, the rest will happen on its own,” he added.
So even after the Godhra train carnage and the following anti-Muslim riots, Mr. Modi used the opportunity for his State-wide Gujarat Gaurav yatra, which got him a landslide poll victory in the 2002 elections. This despite the fact that the then Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh had passed stinging strictures against Mr. Modi’s government. And even after this, as recently as last fortnight, the Chief Minister said he has mandate to rule Gujarat till 2017 and he has no bigger ambitions.
However, Mr. Modi has been perennially in campaign mode. Be it the garib kalyan melas or the sadbhavna rallies across the State, he has always held public meetings whether there are elections or not. And he has always reaped electoral dividends out of them.