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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Gujarat chief minister resigns
The torched down in Godhra, Gujarat
Hundreds have died in Gujarat's communal violence
The Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, has resigned to pave the way for fresh elections.


There has been a lot of instability after Godhra and subsequent violence in Gujarat. So we have decided to seek a fresh mandate

Narendra Modi, Chief Minister
Mr Modi had come in for severe criticism for his handling of religious violence in the state earlier this year, which erupted after an attack on a train carrying Hindu activists in Godhra.

The opposition had been demanding Mr Modi's resignation for what they called "his failure to maintain law and order."

But Mr Modi remained unrepentant, and continued to enjoy the backing of his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The eruption of communal violence in the state was the worst in India for a decade, and the police and state authorities were accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority from attacks by Hindu mobs.

Fresh elections

"We have decided to dissolve the assembly and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate," Mr Modi was reported as saying, after a meeting of the state cabinet on Thursday.
Narendra Modi, Gujarat's controversial chief minister
Mr Modi has been facing severe criticism

The state governor, SS Bhandari, told reporters that he had accepted Mr Modi's resignation, but asked Mr Modi to continue as a caretaker chief minister until the new government is formed.

A state government spokesman, Purushottam Rupala, told the BBC that it was up to the election commission to announce a date for the elections.

Elections were not due until early in 2003.

The BJP had an overwhelming majority in the 181-seat assembly which now stands dissolved.

Hindu support

The violence in the state was sparked after 58 Hindu activists died when their train was attacked in February.

Nearly 1,000 people are estimated to have died in subsequent violence, mostly revenge attacks on Muslims by Hindus.

Some human rights groups put the toll much higher.

Sporadic incidents of violence have continued since February.

Analysts say by holding early elections the party expects to be returned on a wave of Hindu support.

See also:

12 Jul 02 | South Asia
03 Jul 02 | South Asia
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29 Apr 02 | South Asia
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