They said he wont win it again. They shifted their goalposts.
And the third time, they said, if he does not win by a particular 'absurdly high' margin, he is finished. He won by an absurdly high margin and made it home. They shifted their goalposts again.
They said, he cannot ever be the BJPs acceptable face as PM candidate, after all he is one of the leaders and there are many others who have a better stake - and therefore, he will not the PM candidate. They also said, the BJP itself will not declare any PM candidate and fight the elections without a declared PM candidate. He used the same third Gujarat elections and converted it into a platform for establishing his own stamp on the party. While his detractors were busy campaigning against him in the Gujarat elections, he was busy building a platform to catapult himself into the national arena. Talk about being blindsided.
Slowly, but surely, he got the BJP to declare him a Prime Ministerial candidate. They said, he could never be a consensus candidate for the BJP. And indeed, they even pitched for Advani - who from the Vajpayee days and before was a famous hawk. But anything is kosher when it comes to stopping Narendra Modi - and Advani was branded as secular. Among other things, Modi was also accused of somehow not being true to BJP (whatever that meant).
They then said, that he would polarise the NDA - especially after the JDU blinked and walked off in a puff of secular smoke. Post that the NDA has assiduously built a large coalition - of about 25 parties and entered terrorities where it hitherto never even bothered to contest. That coalition was bigger than any previous NDA coalition. So much for being a polarising figure. He won the party far more votes than the BJP had ever won in its history. Counting is still on, but it does not look like BJP will get 272 seats (50% of parliament) on its own. With allies, the number will cross 320 for sure.
Now they may say he cannot rule. Well, he has come this far. We are willing to wait and watch. And as for the naysayers, please write your columns continuing to shift goalposts.
(Cross posted at CRI)