Ahmedabad: Narendra Modi will be Chief Minister of Gujarat for a third straight term. And he is set to cross his 2007 tally of 117 seats.
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Projections based on leads at 1.30 pm show Mr Modi likely to end the day at 122 seats, five more than last time and enough to make his party state that his "vibrant Gujarat" plank worked despite the Congress' best effort to discredit him.
In consonance, he has won his own election in Maninagar constituency of Ahmedabad by a whopping 86,373 votes, defeating political debutante Shweta Bhatt, the wife of Sanjiv Bhatt, the senior policeman who went against Mr Modi in Gujarat riots cases. Mr Modi had in 2007 won by 75,000 votes.
He needs only 92 of the 182 seats in the state to get his third straight term as chief minister. But if all current leads change to wins, Finance Minister P Chidambaram's celebration of "managing to contain" him would have been embarrassingly premature. "The Congress is a clear winner in Gujarat, we have be able to contain BJP and Modi to under 117 seats," Mr Chidambaram had said a little while ago. At that time 117 seemed a stretch for Mr Modi.
The BJP's celebrations began early at the party office in Ahmedabad, where Narendra Modi's supporters seem clear where he is headed next. They held up posters that said, "This is the trailer, watch the film in 2014" and "CM in 2012, PM in 2014" and even "Hit & Fit for PM."
In victory, the BJP though seemed reluctant to comment on a bigger role for Mr Modi just yet. "Modi bhai has always been an important leader in the BJP... We are not a dynastic party which is led by a Yuvaraj. We function in a pure democratic fashion," BJP chief Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Many in the BJP have been seeking a bigger role for Mr Modi on the national stage, and there has been much talk of him being projected as the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2014 general elections. But Mr Modi is not universally acceptable to allied parties like the Janata Dal (United). As results rolled in to make clear that Mr Modi would win again in Gujarat, JD(U) leader Ali Anwar said, "Gujarat is not the full country. Muslims in Gujarat may have voted out of fear. We have made our stand clear, the JD(U) wants a man of credentials." Though the BJP and JD(U) are partners in the National Democratic Alliance or NDA, they fought the Gujarat elections separately.
In such, a big win in Gujarat would give Mr Modi much bargaining power; also within his own party, where in an internal power struggle, senior leaders are said to have been wary of Mr Modi's hold post an even bigger victory in his state.
The Congress' Abhishek Manu Singhvi said today, "Victory in Gujarat polls makes Narendra Modi unstoppable in the BJP. He is a very important Chief Minister for BJP but that has nothing to do with his national acceptability."
The Congress had fielded three Members of Parliament (MP), but they all lost. Kunvarji Bavalia, Member of Parliament from Rajkot, Somabhai G Patel, MP from Surendranagar, and Vitthal Radadia, MP from Congress - who recently made news for brandishing a gun at a toll booth - lost their constituencies.
Even though former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel won, his Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) failed to make a dent; the GPP's Gordhan Zadafia lost his constituency. Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly, Shaktisinh Gohil of the Congress lost from Bhavnagar Rural constituency. He was defeated by the BJP's Purshottam Solanki.