"Who are these people accusing us? India was secular even when the Muslims hadn't come here and the Christians hadn't set foot on this soil."
—Atal Behari Vajpayee in Goa, April 12
Given its small size and a fractured electoral verdict, the BJP's rejoicing over forming a government in Goa may seem a trifle out of proportion. But the party is looking at Goa as a big neon sign pointing the way to victory in the Gujarat assembly poll later this year, followed by a slew of state elections next year.
That the Centre took Goa seriously was clear from the fact that Union minister Pramod Mahajan took personal charge, running a highly scientific operation. Each constituency was profiled in detail and while the cash spent wasn't much by Delhi standards, a lot of human effort went into micro-level strategising.
The Sangh parivar tends to believe the election saw a polarisation of votes as a result of a strident, Gujarat-oriented Congress campaign. Says BJP MP Vinay Katiyar, "The PM's speech during the party's national executive in Goa in April had a big...