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Narendra Modi and the ‘lucky’ Rajkot (west) seat which paved his journey from RSS pracharak to Prime Minister of India

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday, a look back at his electoral journey.

Born on 17th September, 1950, Narendra Modi has had a long standing association with the voluntary nationalist organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). During then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency, RSS appointed him as the general secretary of the “Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti”, to coordinate opposition to the Emergency in Gujarat. When Indira Gandhi banned RSS, Modi had to go into hiding to avoid arrest.

He became the pracharak with the Sangh in late 1970s in Gujarat and later went to Delhi. In mid-80s, he returned to Gujarat and joined the BJP where he worked to strengthen the organisation. After friction with former BJP leader Shankersinh Vaghela, he was sent to Delhi to oversee BJP activities in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. Eventually, Vaghela defected to Congress. Modi continued to be away from Gujarat till 2001 when Keshubhai Patel-led BJP government in Gujarat was facing severe backlash over allegations of corruption, abuse of power and poor administration after the devastating 2001 earthquake.

Keshubhai Patel resigned over his ill health and Narendra Modi, who had never held a public post was made the Chief Minister. Modi, however, needed to be elected as a Member of Legislative Assembly within six months of swearing in as Chief Minister to hold the post.

Rajkot (West), the lucky seat

The Rajkot (West), formerly called Rajkot II seat, is the ‘lucky’ seat where BJP leaders believe they are assured of victory. Vajubhai Vala, who is currently the Governor of Karnataka, then vacated his seat Rajkot (West) for Modi to contest the by-elections. Vala had been winning this seat since 1985 assembly elections.

In February 2002, three seats in Gujarat were going for by-elections: Rajkot (West), where Modi was contesting elections for the first time, Mahua and Sajayjiganj. BJP was holding all three seats. When results were announced on 24th February 2002, while Congress managed to snatch Mahua and Sayajiganj from the BJP, Modi won Rajkot (West) with 14,728 votes.

He then went on to win three elections in Gujarat as Chief Minister and eventually became the Prime Minister of India. Current Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is also an MLA from Rajkot (West) since 2014. No wonder that when Modi was filing his nomination for 2019 elections, Rajkot wanted their son to contest from their Lok Sabha constituency for the added ‘luck factor’.

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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