- PM thanked voters of the states whose results were declared yesterday
- The victory celebration was attended by senior BJP leaders and ministers
- PM Modi also attended a meeting of the BJP parliamentary board
The celebrations for the outsized results in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were turned by the BJP into a launchpad for future elections.
PM Modi thanked the voters of the five states whose results were declared yesterday and used his victory speech to counter criticism. The party has been rebuked by opponents and others for not fielding a single Muslim candidate in Uttar Pradesh. "The BJP government is for those who have voted, (and) not voted for the party... no government has the right to discriminate. People are with or against some party only till the time of voting. Now, the UP government belongs to the people of UP," he said.
Top cabinet ministers, organisational leaders and Chief Ministers of different states were in attendance as Mr Modi was thanked for his leadership.
Political opponents charge his government with rising arrogance. The PM cautioned his party in a speech that was frequently interrupted by cheers of "Modi, Modi" that "We have reached this position after hard work by four generations...winning requires us to be more humble. A tree may grow tall, but it can bend if it bears lots of fruit."
To stress that outright landslide wins which have decimated the opposition will not result in over-confidence, the PM said, "We may makes mistakes, but we will always be well-intentioned. We will work our hardest," he said (his punishing schedule is well-acknowledged), adding that, "I am the first PM who is often asked about working so hard. We will always serve the people."
If there was one over-riding theme to his speech, it was that there is a "New India" that is centered on its youth, and its aspirations, and its willingness to bear difficulties in the larger interest of progress, a reference to his demonetisation drive that was ridiculed by opponents but has been welcomed by the people.
It is now accepted even by rivals that his re-election is certain in 2019. The PM too suggested that he is drafting his agenda for a second term, highlighting that progress on key areas must be delivered "by 2022 - when the country would be celebrating 75 years of independence."
Pro-poor policies like free gas connections for the rural poor have served the BJP well in these elections, and the PM stressed, "There is a need to raise aspirations among the poor to find opportunities to do better."
In concert with this was his focus on development, which he described as "a tough issue to highlight in a campaign...for 50 years, parties have been afraid to use this plank."
His assertion that the BJP is going through a golden period has unquestionable evidence. The sea of BJP workers certainly agreed. They cheered him as he walked by. They danced in the street to patriotic songs. And each time they caught a glimpse of him on the plasma screens relaying his speech, they shouted his name.