NEW DELHI: In a speech that was turned into a "victory speech" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he left little to imagination at the BJP headquarters on Thursday.
The Prime Minister showering praise on Manohar Lal Khattar leaves little doubt that the BJP will stake claim to make him the Chief Minister of Haryana again.
But the overarching theme of a relatively short speech by Modi has been making a contrast between and after 2014, when he came on to the national scene.
"We could hardly contest in any seat in Haryana earlier. We used to play second fiddle. How many seats did BJP fight and which constituencies were determined by our alliance partner pre-2014? If we would win 10 seats, it would be our good fortune," Modi said.
He also highlighted how the BJP before 2014 played the role of "smaller partner" to Shiv Sena. But ever since 2014, things have changed for the BJP, said Modi. It was a clear demarcation of the BJP before Modi, and the BJP after Modi. Never has he made such a claim as brazenly as on Thursday.
Just hours before that, BJP President Amit Shah tweeted: "In the last five years, the Khattar government under Modi's central leadership made every effort for the welfare of the people of Haryana. I congratulate the public for making BJP the largest party and giving it a chance to serve again."
It was a not-so-subtle statement that BJP will stake claim to form government in a state where numbers don't allow it to form the government on its own. When Modi talked about Modi after 2014, he was referring to this attitude of a more aggressive party that didn't concede defeat even in face of defeat.
"We have started Modi 2.0 with two wins," announced Shah as a relaxed Modi smiled, defying any presumption of tension.
Though the crowd at the BJP headquarters was not as huge as the one after the 2019 general election victory, the message was communicated by Modi and Shah: This is Modi's BJP and its different.