From one Friday the 13th to another: Narendra Modi has come a long way

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Yet another Friday the thirteenth has arrived. The last Friday the thirteenth was an important date in Indian politics. It was on that day, in September, when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was anointed as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate despite a number of difficulties threatening his emergence.

But by the time the next Friday the thirteenth came, in the month of December, it was clear that the BJP was little affected by anything unlucky (generally related to Friday the thirteenth). Rather, the BJP saw a revival of sort under an assertive leadership of Narendra Modi.

Here are the five biggest advantages that the BJP had in the three months since Modi was formally declared its prime ministerial candidate:

Settling the leadership problem

September 13, 2013, marked the formal end of the Lal Krishna Advani era. The leader and some of the party leaders close to him tried their best to stop Modi's elevation but the force in favour of the latter was too tough to resist. It was a democratic transition in the party, which till recently, was struggling to direct itself towards a positive aim.

The BJP's performance in countering the Congress-led UPA's failure wasn't convincing and a sense of despair was gradually creeping in. Even there was lack of a consensus on Modi's leadership in the party as some were afraid that elevating Modi before the five assembly polls held recently could be a suicidal step for the BJP.

The apprehension was proved wrong and Modi's anointment settled the pressing problem of a weakening top leadership in the post-Vajpayee and Advani days.

Inclusive approach

The BJP has somewhat succeeded in reasserting its identity as a soft project of an otherwise extremist ideology. And none other than Modi has led this reassertion. A section was apprehensive that Modi's emergence would be bad news for India for he was perceived as an extremist Hindutva leader. But Modi proved all wrong by avoiding call for revival of the Ayodhya movement in Uttar Pradesh and even saying that toilets are more important than temples.

Modi proved all those who thought he wouldn't succeed in state polls wrong

This transition of Modi and along with it, the BJP's initiative to establish its credbility before the liberal Hindu voters was a significant move. This proved that Modi and his party were working to a plan, unlike in 2009 when the BJP had no plan of action for the national polls, except perhaps praying for Advani's election as the prime minister.

Modi's multi-faced approach: winning back dissenters, new allies and forging social coalition

Modi has taken special care of trying to bring back dissenting leaders in the BJP. As a seasoned political leader, he knows how much local leaders mean for the party's prospects in big elections. In Karnataka, efforts are already on to bring back former BJP chief minister BS Yeddyurappa who had quit the party after a conflict of interest with top leader like Advani. Former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi might also be wooed to strengthen the BJP's chances in that state. Besides, Modi also concentrated on the task of winning allies and he has been doing it even before his anointment. He wooed the

Telugu Desam Party during his Hyderabad rally in August. He made a positive remark about Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee while taking on the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party during one of his UP rallies.

In Delhi, he avoided the mention of the Aam Aadmi Party. Modi has worked to a plan and that is to get the genuinely anti-Congress forces together. He has also made a calculated move while wooing his audience. He has targeted social sections like the youth, ex-servicemen, gold traders and others to cement his anti-Congress views. Each of these sections are among those aggrieved by the UPA's policy.

Extensive campaigning

Modi always knew that the five just-concluded assembly polls would be his litmus test. Had his party failed to impress, the entire responsibility would have gone to him and his critics would not show him any mercy. Hence, he made extensive campaigning in the four poll-bound states, namely, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi besides addressing rallies for the Lok Sabha in other states. This energetic move by the new leadership of the BJP gave it high returns as the poll results showed and now it looks stopping Modi is becoming an impossible ask.

Five assembly elections of 2013

Many analysts are saying that the victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh were made possible by the local leaders of the respective state. There is nothing in that observation. But to say Modi had no role to play in those polls is not appropriate. Modi played a perfect partner to each of the local leaders to either protect their respective bastions or storm that of the opposition.

In Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh could have lost closely to the sympathy wave for the Naxaliite-attacked Congress but yet he ended at the top because Modi chipped in for him at the appropriate time. Congress's Rahul Gandhi had failed to produce a similar magic for his party in Rajasthan and Delhi where it was decimated.

The BJP almost got a majority in Delhi but for a few seats where it lost by whiskers to the AAP. But given the condition that the Delhi BJP was even a few months ago, nobody had expected it to emerge as the single-largest party in the polls. Again it was Modi who had left a positive influence on the party's prospects by having a say in changing its chief ministerial candidate.

If Delhi go to the polls again in another few months along with the national polls, the BJP is likely to have a much bigger chance than the AAP to repeat its feat, for 'Modi as the alternative to the Congress' will be the dominating mantra then.

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