New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today congratulated Gujarat, which has returned the BJP to power for the sixth time. Gujarat, he said, had proved that the ordinary Indian hungers for development. Hitting out at the opposition Congress, he said, "You may not like the BJP but please do not do anything to derail the country's development".
The dig was at the Congress, which over the last few weeks of shrill and personal campaign, had alleged that the Prime Minister had abandoned the discourse of development in Gujarat. Rahul Gandhi, who had led the Congress campaign from the front, had said that the Prime Minister, having failed to deliver on his promises of development, had focused on attacking the Congress.
Without naming the Congress in the 25-minute address to the party workers at the BJP headquarters in Delhi, the Prime Minister ripped into the opposition party. Gujarat, he said, had rejected the casteist agenda of "some people" -- the target was the alliance Rahul Gandhi had stitched up with young backward caste leaders Alpesh Thakur and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani. Both leaders had won.
"Casteism was so prevalent in Gujarat that it took workers like us 30 years to free Gujarat from its clutches... But some people, out of hunger for power, in the last few months tried to sow the seeds of casteism," the Prime Minister said.
The BJP victory though, fell far short of the "Mission 150" earmarked by party chief Amit Shah. While the party notched up 92-seats -- the minimum needed to win the elections -- it failed to cross 100, way behind its 2012 score of 116.
While claiming that an eight per cent gap between the BJP and Congress' vote share cannot be scoffed at, Mr Shah, too, attributed the lower numbers of the BJP to "Congress' caste politics and low level of political discourse". "When I had said 150 seats, we did not know that the Congress would stoop so low," the BJP chief said.