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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
India's opposition turns up the heat
Rioters in Ahmedabad last month
The Gujarat violence has tarnished the image of the BJP
Opposition lawmakers have forced parliament to adjourn for the second day in a row over the situation in the riot-hit state of Gujarat.

Opposition parties are demanding a special debate and vote on Gujarat as pressure grows on the country's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP is under attack for refusing to replace its leader in Gujarat, where more than 700 people have been killed in religious riots.

One of its key allies, the regional Telugu Desam Party is pushing for the replacement of the BJP Chief Minister in Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

If the Telugu Desam withdraws its support to the government, it would leave the BJP-led coalition with a precariously slim majority.

Anger over poll move

Mr Modi is accused of turning a blind eye when Hindu mobs went on the rampage in Gujarat last month, in violence that resulted in the deaths of many Muslims.

During a party conclave last week, the BJP asked Mr Modi to call fresh elections in Gujarat.

But opposition parties have strongly criticised the move.

"What kind of government is this? They want to hold elections in Gujarat?" opposition Congress Party spokesman Jaipal Reddy said.

An effigy of Modi burning during a demonstration in Delhi
Mr Modi has become increasingly unpopular
"Today Gujarat is burning, tomorrow the country will burn," shouted the Congress' Satyavrad Chaturvedi in parliament.

Newspaper editorials also attacked the move describing it as a "cynical ploy".

"This takes the politics of opportunism to new levels of insensitivity," The Indian Express said.

UK report

The Hindustan Times newspaper on Monday said the UK High Commission in Delhi had sent a report on the riots to the British Foreign Office, which placed the death toll at more than 2,000.

The High Commission report is alleged to have said that the continuing violence in Gujarat is aimed at removing Muslim influence from parts of the state.

Bodies covered with blankets
Fears the toll could be much higher
Last month's violence in Gujarat started after Muslims attacked a train carrying hardline Hindus from the disputed holy site of Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Nearly 60 Hindu activists died in that attack.

Shortly afterwards, a wave of Hindu-led rioting, burning and killing engulfed Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat.

Thousands of Muslims were driven from their homes.

Mr Modi's administration in Gujarat was heavily criticised by India's human rights commission for its handling of the riots, in which the police were seen to stand by as Hindu mobs killed Muslims.

The BBC's Adam Mynott
"Angry MP's caused the adjournment of the lower house of parliament"
Vinod Mehta, editor of Outlook magazine:
"The Modi affair is not yet over, but for the moment, it seems the BJP is determined to back Narendra Modi"
See also:

12 Apr 02 | South Asia
Analysis: BJP's Gujarat tactics
12 Apr 02 | South Asia
BJP stands by Gujarat chief
24 Feb 02 | South Asia
BJP setback in Indian polls
25 Feb 02 | South Asia
Analysis: India's vulnerable BJP
24 Mar 02 | South Asia
Rights panel censures Gujarat
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Profile: Atal Behari Vajpayee
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