Prime Minister Narendra Modi today turned emotional as he recalled the struggle and contribution of BJP leaders in building the party in Gujarat where the saffron party notched up its sixth consecutive assembly win.
Addressing the BJP parliamentary party, PM Modi also said that Congress under Indira Gandhi got to rule 18 states but the BJP and its allies were in power in 19 states as of now. The saffron party had achieved such a political feat in its three-and-a-half-year rule at the Centre.
PM Modi fondly recalled how former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee congratulated him in person when the party fared well in a Lok Sabha election from Gujarat, noting that he, then a relatively new entrant to the BJP from the RSS and a general secretary in charge of the state, was not widely known in the party, sources said.
PM Modi also noted that it was Vajpayee's magnanimity to reach out to him.
Modi was seen holding back his tears, according to those present at the meeting, at least three times as he named Jana Sangh and BJP leaders, some of them now dead, who built the organisation in Gujarat, which has become a party citadel for over two decades.
It was a big achievement for the BJP to win power in the state for a sixth term with more vote share, he said, asking party leaders not to be affected by the opposition's "disinformation campaign."
The Congress has projected Gujarat results, where it won its biggest tally since 1985 polls by winning 77 seats while the BJP with 99 seats got its lowest since 1990, as a "moral victory" for itself, a claim termed as a "laughable exercise" by BJP chief Amit Shah at today's meeting.
Modi broke into tears as he recalled the work of Makrand Desai, Arvind Maniyar and Vasantrao Gajendragadkar among others in building the party, known as Jana Sangh in its earlier avatar, in Gujarat, the sources said.
He said they and countless other leaders and workers had made huge sacrifices as he asked party leaders to work with dedication and humility to win people's support.
Seeking the promotion of young leaders at every level in the organisation, Modi referred to his association with Shah and spoke about how he groomed the BJP president, 14 years younger to the prime minister, the sources said.
(With PTI inputs)