Ahmedabad, Dec 23 (UNI) Riding on the crest of a popular wave, Chief Minister Narendra Modi today swept the BJP to power in Gujarat for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term, thus shattering the Congress dream of staging a comeback in the state after 12 years in the wilderness.
In what may alter the political equations at the national level in coming days, the 57-year-old Modi single-handedly managed to retain power for the saffron party, harping on his developmental agenda throughout the poll campaign.
In the 182-member Assembly, the BJP won as many as 117 seats as the party's 'lucky mascot' defied the anti-incumbency factor and a strong challenge from his adversaries both within the BJP and outside. In the outgoing House, however, the BJP had a strength of 127.
The Congress yet again failed to reach the figure of 60 seats in the state Assembly. It had won 59 seats this time as compared to its strength of 51 in the outgoing assembly. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the Congress, made its maiden entry into the Gujarat Assembly securing three seats while the Janata Dal (United) got one seat. Independents won at two places.
In his first reaction to the Assembly polls outcome, a triumphant Modi thanked the people of Gujarat for reposing faith in his leadership and appealed to all political parties to have a positive attitude to build a ''Golden Gujarat''.
The controversial Chief Minister , who chose to fight the elections by highlighting what he had done for the state during his six years at the helm of affairs, will be sworn in as the Chief Minister for the third time at a ceremony on December 27. BJP Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani and other party stalwarts will be present at the swearing-in ceremony.
Mr Modi was first appointed the Chief Minister in December 2001 after Mr Keshubhai Patel was asked by the BJP high command to step down following his failure to undertake the desired measures to rehabilitate the victims of the massive earthquake on January 26, 2000. He was sworn in the second time after the BJP secured 127 seats in the assembly elections in 2002.
A quick analysis of the results shows that the BJP has done reasonably well in the Assembly seats in the coastal belt where the people were obviously impressed with the 'Sagar Khedu Yojna' for fishermen. Another key factor in improving the BJP's overall tally was the party's handsome performance in Northern Gujarat was the return of milk cooperative 'King' Vipul Chaudhary to the BJP fold.
The BJP has also done well in several Muslim-dominated areas as well as in the Saurashtra region where the powerful Patel lobby had turned against Mr Modi.
The Congress, on the other hand, has done well in the tribal areas adjoining Madhya Pradesh.