Modi pitches himself for national role

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SummaryHours after election results had ensured he would be chief minister for the fourth straight time, Narendra Modi told thousands of BJP workers and supporters

Hours after election results had ensured he would be chief minister for the fourth straight time, Narendra Modi told thousands of BJP workers and supporters that Gujarat’s voters had paved the way for him to “work for the country”.

His audience, thronging the lanes around the BJP office, roared in approval, “Desh ka neta kaisa ho, Narendra Modi jaisa ho,” and “NM for PM”.

In victory, Modi was generous, even issuing what appeared to be an unusual apology for unspecified “mistakes”, and asking the people to “forgive” (him).

“I have made many tough decisions in my 11-year tenure. Sometimes my colleagues, some villages and some sections have been hurt by them. There was a wave of objections, but I did what I felt was necessary. But today, those same detractors have come to my side and have supported me,” he said.

The Gujarati voter, fired by “pro-incumbency”, was the day’s hero, he said again and again. “If India is in any kind of want or need then Gujarat should be able to reach out and provide a solution. I have chosen this path to serve Mother India and through this decision, voters in Gujarat have paved the way for me to work for the country.”

He took expected digs at the media and pundits: “Political pundits must know that Gujarat has renounced caste-based politics and has become mature. Voters have risen above region-based politics that was practised in the 90s. The results prove that the voter knows what is right for the country, and has risen above ideologies and greed.”

Good economics, Modi said, is often seen to be bad politics. But, “let everyone from Assam to Kerala to Kashmir know that my voters in Gujarat have proved this idea wrong. They have embraced development as an important aspect of winning, and sent a message to the people of India.”

Modi also appeared to counter Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on the campaign that government officials were feeling unsafe in Modi’s Gujarat.

He called government officials his “karmayogi brothers”, and said, “I have extracted a lot of work from governemnt officials, more work in 10 years than they would have done in 25. But they have voted us back to power again, which means that they want to work for Gujarat.”

As Modi spoke, the crowd chanted, imploring him to “capture” Delhi. “If you all so wish, I will take a round of

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