Modi begins victory lap



A day after he led the BJP to an unprecedented triumph in the parliamentary polls, Narendra Modi, set to be India’s next prime minister, Saturday undertook victory laps in Delhi and Varanasi, the second Lok Sabha seat he has won, and taunted Congress over its historical loss.

A sea of supporters waved Bharatiya Janata Party flags, blew conches, beat drums, danced and shouted slogans as soon as the Gujurat chief minister stepped out of the Delhi airport after flying in from his state. The celebrations continued all through the long route to the party office.

Besides BJP president Rajnath Singh, the seven newly-elected party MPs from Delhi were among those who received Modi, visiting Delhi a day after the announcement of the Lok Sabha results.

His tone and expressions much more relaxed than what was witnessed during his over 400 rallies during the poll campaign, Modi dedicated the party’s thumping victory in the Lok Sabha polls to the “generations of loyal party workers” as he reached party’s national headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road in central Delhi

The first political reference in his speech came only late in the evening in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, when he took a jibe at Congress for its pathetic loss, as it was limited to 44 Lok Sabha seats.

“We have heard about coalitions to form government but now we have a situation where they need alliance for opposition,” Modi said in Varanasi after he offered prayers at Kashi Vishwanath Temple, referring to the party’s unprecedented, poor show.

In New Delhi, the BJP office was converted in a fortress, but it could do little to keep the party workers and supporters away who kept gathering outside the premise, dancing to the tune of bands playing on the cordoned, decorated road.

In a message of peace, Modi released a bunch of white balloons here, as rose petals were showered in welcome.

Modi attended a meeting of party’s parliamentary board of the party, which decided to meet May 20 to formally elect him as its leader.

“It is a mere formality, there is no need to tell who will be elected,” Rajnath Singh said after the meeting, which was attended by veteran party leader L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Jaitley, M. Venkaiah Naidu, and Amit Shah along with others.

The BJP president also said after the meeting, they would call a meeting of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies.

He also said that they have not yet finalised a date for the swearing-in ceremony for Modi or his cabinet.

Modi then left for Varanasi, the second Lok Sabha seat he won along with Vadodara.

In the holy city, where he defeated Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’ Ajay Rai, Modi performed a ritualistic ‘puja’ at the Vishwanath temple, one of the most pious Shiva temples.

He then participated in a Ganga arti at the bank of the river, holy for Hindus.

“I was stopped from speaking to my people in Varanasi. In spite of that, people voted for me. They put a stamp on my silence,” he said in an indirect reference to the Election Commission which had stopped him from holding a rally in a Beniyabagh, a Muslim dominated area, on security grounds.

Modi also promised to clean up the holy city.

“By 2019, when we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we should have cleaned up the country,” Modi said on the banks of the river.

BJP became the first non-Congress party since Independence in 1947 to win a comfortable majority on its own in the 545-member Lok Sabha.