New Delhi/Ahmedabad, Dec. 21 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday said the apology made by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi after he had won his third consecutive assembly polls, was indicative of his 'humble and polite' nature.
The BJP won 115 of the state assembly's 182 seats against 61 for the Congress Party, which heads the central government.
In his first address after winning the election, Modi said he was not perfect and apologised to the 60 million people of the state for any mistake he may have committed.
Senior BJP leader Balbir Punj said: "This only displays the humble and polite nature of Narendra Modi that people of Gujarat have been so generous, that they have blessed the Bharatiya Janata Party for the fifth time and Narendra Modi as the chief minister for the third time. So he was feeling humble on the occasion and as a polite and humble person he said that I am not perfect, maybe I may have committed some mistakes so sought the forgiveness of 60 million Gujratis and that is something very creditable that even in this moment of absolute victory, he is feeling humble."
Modi's supporters shouted "PM, PM" at his victory speech. He addressed the crowd in Hindi rather than Gujarati, which was seen by commentators as an attempt to address a national audience in preparation for a possible run for higher office.
Former Samajwadi Party (SP) lawmaker Shahid Siddique said: "Narendra Modi is a very smart politician. He has apologised but has also twisted his apology. But I also believe he cannot offer a better apology because before this he used to say that 'for what should I apologise? If I have committed a crime, I should be hanged'. But yesterday he said that if I have committed any mistake then I apologise to the 60 million people of Gujarat for that. If he would have said that I apologise to the people of the country, then it would have been better but he has said this much and we welcome it. I think Narendra Modi is now looking to change his image and if someone trying to change his image, then we welcome it."
Senior Congress leader Jagdambika Pal said: "The hat-trick of victories for Narendra Modi has now created a pressure on the central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party for the 2014 parliament elections. And now the Bharatiya Janata Party along with their coalition partners in the NDA can now look for a new strategy because yesterday in his speech, Modi expressed his desire to be a Prime Ministerial candidate to both the BJP top brass and the people of the country."
In Patna, BJP leader C. P. Thakur said: "We as party members would support him as a Prime Ministerial candidate but only after his name is nominated by the party leadership. First the party has to nominate, then the party has to negotiate with the NDA partners and form a consensus."
Modi replaced Keshubhai Patel as state chief in 2001 in wake of electoral reverses, and subsequently won elections in 2002 and again in 2007.
The question will now turn to whether Modi will secure the backing of the BJP, which has been plagued by internal squabbling and has lacked a leader to galvanise the party's Hindu, middle class "vote bank".
Critics, even within his own party, see Modi as arrogant and divisive. He is also likely to struggle to revive the BJP's fortunes in northern states with large Muslim populations, and could struggle to win regional allies - who rely on religious minorities - to form a national coalition.
That could help the Congress party, although it has seen its popularity slide while in power due to voter anger over slowing growth, high inflation and a string of corruption scandals. (ANI)