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Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 14:25 GMT
Gujarat vote draws jubilation and fear
BJP supporters in Gujarat
Ecstatic BJP supporters gathered outside the party office

The landslide victory for the ruling BJP in Gujarat has been welcomed by the state's Hindu majority.

Many of them took to the streets on Sunday to celebrate the outcome of the poll.

We didn't want the BJP to win. They have singled us out and now I don't know what's going to happen

Muslim resident

But the result has come as a blow to Gujarat's Muslim minority, who make up 10% of the state.

They are now apprehensive that the hardline rhetoric of the Hindu right may lead to more violence against their community.

Ecstatic

As the results came trickling in, and it became apparent that the BJP was heading for a massive win, supporters began gathering in street corners in the state's commercial capital, Ahmedabad.

Many young men and women were among them, wearing scarves in the BJP colours - saffron and green.

They set off firecrackers and danced on the road - "Long live Narendra Modi, Long live Mother India," they chanted.

A Muslim resident in Ahmedabad
Many Muslims are disappointed by the results

Young men drove up and down the streets in motorcycles, honking loudly and flashing victory signs.

Some of them turned on the many journalists and television crews who had gathered.

"For months you lot have vilified us - now we have responded. This is a day of celebration," one young man shouted.

"The Congress is finished. All they are interested in is Muslim votes," said another.

"Well we are in the majority and we are united. Let that be clear."

Hindu hero

Many headed to the BJP party headquarters in the heart of Ahmedabad, which happens to be located in a Muslim majority area.

By midday the crowd had swelled to well over a thousand, swaying and chanting in a sea of saffron and green.

"We want Modi. He's our hero - where is he?"

The man himself arrived shortly in a cavalcade of cars.

Riot police took up positions and formed a human shield as the chief minister hurried inside the office after a brief wave.

Nearly an hour later, he reappeared on a balcony and the crowd went ballistic.

"Modi, Modi," they chanted in a reception befitting a rock star.

"Repeat after me: "Long live Mother India", he commanded and they duly obliged.

The victory party also had onlookers who took in the celebrations from a distance.

The neighbourhood's Muslim residents gathered at the edges - bearded young men in prayer caps, women clad in black veils, or burqas.

Nobody paid them much attention and they steered clear of the media, refusing to comment.

Muslim concern

But in another part of Ahmedabad, the sensitive Muslim-dominated Shahpur neighbourhood, the disappointment was evident.

There were no raucous celebrations here, no firecrackers or saffron flags.
BJP supporters
BJP supporters began early celebrations

Men sat in little groups, drinking tea and talking in low voices.

They looked up in suspicion when approached and were clearly uncomfortable about being asked questions.

"We want peace to return. That's all. Let us be," one of them muttered.

But another, younger, man was more vocal.

"We didn't want the BJP to win. They have singled us out and now I don't know what's going to happen. But we are afraid."

He looked up as the loudspeakers in the local mosque came to life, the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.

The groups dispersed and filed towards the mosque.

As we left, a police car drove past slowly.

The tension here is all too evident.

Gujarat conflict in-depth

Key vote

Tense state

Background

BBC WORLD SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

13 Dec 02 | South Asia
12 Dec 02 | South Asia
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