Ahmedabad: The BJP high command may still be pondering over whether or not to pick Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for 2014 polls, but its poster boy seems to be scaling new heights making him a formidable contender for the country’s top job.
After delivering Gujarat to his party for the third time, Modi achieved yet another feather in his cap when the European Union extended anh olive branch to him signaling the end of its boycott that began after the Gujarat riots of 2002.
And now, his party, under his charismatic leadership, swept local elections held on Sunday by winning 47 of 75 municipal corporations across the state.
However, the salient feature of BJP’s big win was its victory in the Salaya municipality in the Jamnagar district of Saurashtra.
BJP’s victory here is crucial since 90 percent of the population in Salaya is Muslim.
For the 27 seats at stake, the BJP had fielded 24 Muslim candidates, who succeeded in defeating their Congress and other opponents. BJP’s Salaya victory also gave a major setback for Congress, which has won the town elections for decades, but could not win a single seat this time.
This is sharply I contrast to the last year’s assembly elections in the state, where Modi had not fielded even a single Muslim candidate.
Modi then faced severe criticism from his Congress opponents, openly questioned his secularism. However, with its big civic poll victory in 47 of 75 municipal corporations, the BJP appears to have countered the allegations made by Congress.
BJP, which then said that the assembly election candidates were picked following an assessment of their ability to win, now claims that the civic poll victory has proved its point.
The dynamic Gujarat Chief Minister has been making headlines and has achieved a cult status in terms of popularity.
His Gujarat development model has been widely appreciated and he has attributed his popularity to what he calls "pro-people and good-governance.
Reacting on Tuesday’s civic poll results, BJP spokesman Jagdish Bhavsar was quoted as saying. "It`s a reply to those who have been targeting the Chief Minister. It`s not about religion or caste, it`s about good governance. The people of Salaya have voted for good governance.``