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Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 12:58 GMT
Key figures in Gujarat politics
Profiles of some of the key figures in the assembly elections in India's western Gujarat state.

Narendra Modi

The caretaker state chief minister is seeking re-election on the plank of Hindu revivalism in his well-known aggressive style.

He was strongly criticised for his handling of religious rioting earlier in 2002, which left more than 1,000 people dead.

Narendra Modi
Mr Modi is seeking re-election
Despite pressure to replace him, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allowed him to continue in office.

The poll in Gujarat, therefore, is seen as much as anything else as a referendum on Mr Modi's hardline brand of Hindu nationalism.

Although born in northern Gujarat, Mr Modi is contesting from a constituency in Ahmedabad - a strong support base of Hindu voters.

From a position as the BJP's national general secretary, he was appointed the state chief minister in October last year.

He had made his mark as an organiser and the full time worker of the BJP's parent body, the right-wing RSS (Rashtiya Swayamsevak Sangh) engaged in propagating its ideology.

Shankersinh Vaghela

A former BJP leader, Shankersinh Vaghela is now the state leader of the BJP's main rival, the Congress Party.

He broke away from the BJP after being denied the chief ministerial position.

Shankarsinh Vaghela
Mr Vaghela leads the Congress party
He headed the state government briefly with the support of the Congress.

After a poor showing by his supporters in the last assembly elections in 1998, Mr Vaghela joined the Congress party.

His move to Congress has caused strong resentment within the party.

He won the race for the Congress party's state president's job because of his former links with the BJP.

It was hoped he would be able to take the electoral battle right into the heartland of Gujarat which has been the BJP's stronghold for the last decade.

Keshubhai Patel

Keshubhai Patel, aged 73, is one of the most senior leaders of the BJP who has twice been the state's chief minister in the last decade.

He belongs to the Patel business community - which is economically very successful.

Keshubhai Patel
Mr Patel is a veteran of state politics
The Patels have long dominated the political scene in Gujarat.

Keshubhai Patel's stronghold is the western part of the state where the BJP won 52 out of the 58 assembly seats in the last legislative assembly elections under his leadership.

He was removed from the chief minister's office by the national BJP leadership, after the party lost two by-elections and a co-operative bank scandal in the state.

Sureshbhai Mehta

Sureshbhai Mehta, a former chief minister, is known as a moderate voice in the state unit of the BJP.

He is very popular in the Kutch region which had been hit by a devastating earthquake last year.

He has been a minister in the cabinets of Keshubhai Patel as well as Narendra Modi.

He has been critical of the state government on occasion.

Amarsinh Chaudhary

A tribal leader from the southern part of the state, Mr Chaudhary is a major Congress leader despite having lost to Mr Vaghela for the post of state president.

He was the state chief minister from 1985 to 1989, the period which saw the rise of the BJP in Gujarat as well in other parts of India.

Gujarat conflict in-depth

Key vote

Tense state

Background

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