The first official announcement of Narendra Modi’s name came at the end of BJP president Rajnath Singh’s concluding speech (The speech is usually given by Advani).
It seemed as if the Gujarat CM was waiting for the announcement that took excruciatingly long. Dressed in his trademark bright saffron-coloured kurta, he stood out among other leaders. He was first called on stage, followed by all past party presidents, including Nitin Gadkari, Venkaiah Naidu, Murli Manohar Joshi and CMs of the BJP-ruled states.
With leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, also present, the party, showing a united face, went in for a photo session. ‘Modi for PM’ slogans rent the air as he came out triumphant from the meeting venue.
Flanked by Swaraj and Jaitley, Rajnath later broke the news to waiting mediapersons. “Keeping in mind the whole election campaign, I declare Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as election campaign incharge… Whatever has happened is with everyone’s consent. The BJP-led government will assume power in 2014,” he said.
The party leaders were hard pressed to explain that the decision had everyone’s assent and there was no division.
Modi also immediately tweeted. “Senior leaders have reposed faith in me. We will leave no stone unturned for the ‘Congress mukt Bharat Nirman’. Thanks for support and blessings.... Spoke to Advaniji on the phone. He gave me his blessings. Honoured and extremely grateful to receive his blessings.”
In his ‘victory’ speech at the workers’ conference, Modi attacked Congress and the weak PM. “Well begun is half won,” he said about his elevation. He went on to equate his role to that of a worker, who as a loyal karyakarta would fulfil all responsibilities.
In his 45-minute speech, Modi addressed the key constituencies he wanted to target. He spoke about disenchantment of the youth, aspirations of women and struggle of farmers.
With his trademark style, he took pauses during his attacks on PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council. He referred to how the NAC has made the Planning Commission defunct. How can the government fight Maoists, when known Naxal sympathisers were working in these bodies, he said, referring to Binayak Sen and NAC member Harsh Mander’s NGO that had the wife of a Naxal leader as its incharge.
Patel Statue Now
Modi has already charted out a strategy to build up momentum in favour of the BJP. With apparent similarity to L K Advani’s Ram Mandir campaign, Modi told a closed-door National Executive meeting that he was already building a statue of Sardar Patel facing the Narmada in Gujarat.
To highlight Patel’s contribution in nation-building and in rallying farmers behind Gandhiji, he intends to ask farmers across the country to donate a piece of iron from their ploughs. “This way, each village will contribute to the statue and take pride in its contribution,” a BJP leader, quoting Modi said. Named the Statue of Unity, it would be double the size of the Statue of Liberty.