The polarizing leader of the western state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, inched closer on Thursday to becoming the leading political challenger to India’s dominant Gandhi family by winning a resounding re-election as chief minister.
“My biggest dream is to serve my masses, my people,” Modi said in a speech before a cheering throng that eventually began to shout “Delhi, Delhi, Delhi,” and then amended that to “P.M., P.M., P.M.,” signaling a hope that he wins the post of prime minister in national elections scheduled for 2014.
Modi had campaigned in the Gujarati language, but he gave his widely televised victory speech in Hindi – a clear sign that his intended audience extended well beyond his 60 million constituents. His message in the speech, as it has been throughout his campaign, was that he has brought wealth to Gujarat, which lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea, by encouraging economic development. His party won 115 seats in the state legislature. Although a decline of two seats, it is nonetheless a comfortable majority in a house of 182 seats.