As the BJP today headed for its sixth straight term in Gujarat and wresting Himachal Pradesh from the Congress, its leaders described the poll outcome as a vote for development and trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Echoing his party’s mood, Modi flashed a victory sign after he arrived in Parliament here. Party leaders used the 1992 Aamir Khan starrer “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” title to downplay the better than projected performance of the Congress in Gujarat and a possible decline in their own numbers. “Jo jeeta wohi Sikandar (whoever wins is king). This is the message to those who joked about vikas (development),” said Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Union minister Smriti Irani seconded him and said the victory was dedicated to booth-level party workers and those who voted for “good governance” and “development”. Asked whether the Congress had given the party a tough fight, she said, “I feel ‘Jo jeeta wohi Sikander’…” Other senior Union ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Prakash Javadekar, said the polls trends reflect the impact of Modi’s leadership, while party leaders like Sakshi Maharaj attributed the outcome to the prime minister’s “magic”. Minister Giriraj Singh termed the result as the first defeat for Congress’ new president Rahul Gandhi and asserted that his charisma did not work. “This is a vote for development and trust for Narendra Modi,” added his colleague Jitendra Singh. Asked if the results were an endorsement of the Modi government’s policies, Rajnath Singh, the former party president, said, “Of course. It is an approval of the government.” Echoing his view, Javadekar said, “Development is the mantra of today’s polity. And therefore, people are with Modiji.”
According to Nirmala Sitharaman, the credit goes to people of Gujarat who “voted for development” and rejected “Congress’ politics of caste”. Sakshi Maharaj said Rahul Gandhi “changes his colour like a chameleon”. “That is why he was visiting temples in Gujarat. But even that failed. This is the magic of our prime minister Narendra Modi,” he added. BJP vice president Shyam Jaju said anti-incumbency had not worked in Gujarat. “The prime minister’s popularity is intact. Amit Shah’s strategy has worked,” he said. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya agreed. “There is nothing to worry. We will form government in Gujarat with comfortable majority,” Vijayvargiya added. On suggestions that the BJP may have suffered a setback as trends indicated that it would end up with fewer than expected seats in Gujarat, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli wondered how a win could be considered a setback. The latest trends for the 182 seats in the Gujarat assembly poll showed that the BJP was ahead in 79 seats and had won 21, adding to 100.
BJP had said the party would form the government for the sixth straight in Gujarat and pegged the tally at 150 seats. “I am hearing on certain channels that it is a setback. How can a victory be a setback? A setback is for one who does not win. If you are in power or you are in government from 1995 non-stop and you are going to win another election, it cannot be a setback,” Kohli asserted. BJP vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said the party would analyse the results in detail. “It is a routine process,” he added. BJP leader Ram Madhav said, “Casteist agenda of Hardik, Jignesh, Alpesh Troika has helped Congress or cost it the election? Congress has to search for answers coolly after all the details come out…BJP…will celebrate but candidly analyse too.”