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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 13:14 GMT
Gujarat leader reaps poll reward
BJP activists cheer 15 December
BJP supporters celebrate their election victory
Narendra Modi, the chief minister of India's Gujarat state, has been confirmed as party leader in the state by the Hindu nationalist BJP after its sweeping election victory.

Mr Modi, who campaigned on a platform of opposition to terrorism, antipathy towards Pakistan and raising fears of communal discord, will be formally sworn in as chief minister at a later date.

Chief minister Narendra Modi
Supporters cheered Mr Modi wherever he went
The party increased its strength in the state assembly to more than two-thirds of the 182 seats in voting last week.

In the wake of the result announced on Sunday, police imposed curfews in some areas, where violence left three people dead.

The state witnessed savage inter-communal clashes earlier in the year, which killed at least 1,000 people - most of them Muslims.

Hindu agenda

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee congratulated Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whom opponents accuse of capitalising on the violence.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Delhi says that Mr Modi is so closely identified with the BJP's unexpected success that he will be able to impose his hardline Hindu nationalist agenda.

Our correspondent says this will be made easier by the fact that many more moderate BJP politicians in the state lost their seats.

As the scale of the BJP victory was celebrated, two of the party's workers died during a parade in the western town of Rajkot.

And a member of the opposition Congress Party was killed in Baroda in the east.

Riot-prone

On Sunday, security forces used tear gas to break up clashes between BJP activists and Muslims in Baroda.

Riot police in Ahmedabad 15 December
Mr Vaghela says disillusioned voters will turn to Congress
Police also dispersed crowds in Ahmedabad when they began pelting stones at each other.

But the situation in both cities - which were at the heart of the bloody rioting earlier this year - is said to be under control now.

The local Congress Party leader, Shankersingh Vaghela, said the BJP had won using "communal" tactics to divide majority Hindus and minority Muslims in the state.

BJP officials denied they had "cashed in" on the riots.

Mandate

Mr Modi struck a conciliatory note after the results came out, saying he would work for all the people of Gujarat, whether they had voted for him or not.

But he said he had a clear mandate: "The people of Gujarat have given a verdict in our favour - I thank them for this."

The scale of his victory surprised some observers as the BJP's popularity has been in decline.

Prime Minister Vajpayee told reporters: "We want to take inspiration from this and prepare for upcoming elections in other states."

Assembly elections are due in a number of states next year, and parliamentary elections are expected to be held in 2004.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava
"The wounds of Gujurat are still festering"
Sunil Shastri, BJP spokesman
"The people of Gujarat have full faith in the BJP"
Anand Sharma, Congress Party spokesman
"Congress fought the election on the platform of development"
Gujarat conflict in-depth

Key vote

Tense state

Background

BBC WORLD SERVICE

TALKING POINT
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15 Dec 02 | South Asia
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