Modi, though, simply turns those snubs to his political advantage, portraying himself as the face of a state in search of respect.
"There's no power in the world that has not tried to defame or destroy Gujarat in the last 11 years," he thundered at the rally in Dholka, a town on the southern edge of Ahmadabad, Gujarat's main city.
"But 60 million Gujaratis stood united alongside me and now the world is singing Gujarat's praises," he said, as the crowd cheered.
An equally important part of Modi's stump speech is poking fun at the endless stream of corruption scandals that the Congress party-led national government has faced over the past two years.
"Gujarat's coffers are full and the corrupt are itching to get their hands on it," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "The people of Gujarat will not make the mistake of allowing Gujarat to be looted like Delhi."
The crowd roared: "No, we won't."
His followers are already looking toward 2014, when the country votes in a new Parliament, and they feel he could become prime minister.
"Narendrabhai is a true leader," said a beaming Ila Pandya, a 55-year-old homemaker adding an affectionate suffix to his name that means "brother." ''He knows how to get work done."
That includes pushing through infrastructure projects that would get stalled elsewhere in India by political and bureaucratic infighting. The state's highways are in excellent shape, shocking drivers from elsewhere in India.
In Gujarat, it's impossible to forget who is in charge.
Modi runs every major state ministry except finance. No local party leaders appear alongside him on election posters. Rivals are pushed aside, and allies are promoted.
"The party in Gujarat is today comprised of men and women once unknown and now in power because of Modi's favor. His hold is absolute," said Aakar Patel, a newspaper columnist who is from Gujarat.
In his speeches, Modi makes clear that only one candidate matters.
"When you vote, you think of me," he said.
"In many ways the election is really a referendum for Modi," said Shiv Vishvanathan, a social scientist at northern India's O.P. Jindal Global University, who has studied Modi for years.
Modi began his political career with the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Dal or the National Volunteers Association, a militant Hindu movement and parent organization of the BJP. The RSS, which was influenced by 1930s German fascism, has been widely accused of stoking religious hatred with its aggressively anti-Muslim views. As one of the BJP's most visible leaders, this is Modi's best chance to make the leap to national politics.
But to do that successfully, he must convince India's Muslims — 13 percent of the country's 1.2 billion people — that he is no longer defined by the violence that swept his state in 2002, India's bloodiest communal violence in the past 20 years. To become a national force would require alliances with parties that have substantial Muslim support.
And to India's Muslims, the memories of the 2002 riots have not faded.
In Gujarat, Muslims say they have heard all the talk about how the state has changed, about development and investment and jobs. But in the resettlement camps, such talk means nothing.
"I was born here and lived here my whole life, but I still don't count. Maybe he works for everyone, but I'm definitely not one of the people he works for," said 50-year-old Shameem Bano.