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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 14:14 GMT
Gujarat holds final poll rallies
Shopkeeper displays an electronic voting machine in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Preparations are almost complete for Thursday's vote

Campaigning has ended in the western Indian state of Gujarat for elections to the state assembly.

The two main competing parties, the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party, have held last minute rallies across the state on Tuesday.

BJP rally in Ahmedabad, 6 December
Entire families often attend rallies
Thursday's crucial elections come just months after religious violence in the state which claimed more than 1,000 lives, mainly Muslims.

The vote, on Thursday, will take place amid heavy security.

Suffering

The Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi held public rallies in north Gujarat, pledging to crackdown on terrorism and focus on security if re-elected.

His main rival, Shankersinh Vaghela, said his party would concentrate on economic development if brought to power.

The Congress Party says under the BJP Gujarat, once an economic powerhouse, has suffered.

The bitter campaign has been marked by acrimonious exchanges between the two camps in an election that observers say is still too close to call.

The authorities are taking steps to ensure that the poll is incident free and that there is no repeat of the religious violence earlier this year.

More than 35,000 additional security personnel have been requisitioned from the central government for election duty.

Ahead of the vote, scores of people have been taken into preventive custody.

Election officials have also made special arrangements for displaced victims of the riots to cast their vote.

Many of them are still too frightened to return to their homes.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Mynott
"This election is all about one man"
Gujarat conflict in-depth

Key vote

Tense state

Background

BBC WORLD SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

15 Nov 02 | South Asia
10 Dec 02 | South Asia
12 Nov 02 | South Asia
08 Nov 02 | South Asia
31 Oct 02 | South Asia
28 Oct 02 | South Asia
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