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 Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 12:30 GMT
Modi resumes power in Gujarat
BJP supporters
Modi has a vocal support among Hindu community
The controversial leader of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, has been sworn in as chief minister.

The BJP swept to victory in the recent assembly elections in the state, winning re-election with a two-thirds majority.

The BJP's strongest electoral gains came in areas of Gujarat where intercommunal violence led to the deaths of more than a thousand people, most of them Muslims, earlier this year.

Some analysts believe the BJP will now impose far-right nationalist policies to win over Hindu voters ahead of national elections in 2004.

Televised nationally

More than 100,000 BJP supporters came to Sardar Patel cricket stadium in the state's commercial capital Ahmedabad, to see Mr Modi and 15 other ministers taking the oath of office.

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani and a host of top BJP leaders, film stars and businessmen attended the ceremony, which was shown on national television.

The opposition Congress party boycotted the ceremony saying that it was a waste of state resources at a time when parts of Gujarat are suffering from drought.

Under the leadership of Mr Modi the BJP won an overwhelming victory in state elections last week, winning 126 seats in the 182-member assembly.

Firebrand rhetoric

Mr Modi used to be known as a back-room operator mainly involved in the organisation of the BJP.

But during the recent elections his firebrand pro-Hindu rhetoric consolidated the Hindu opinion behind the BJP.

Modi supporters
Modi's supporters were convinced by his rhetoric

He campaigned openly on a platform of Hindutva (hardline Hinduism). He capitalised on an attack in the town of Godhra in which nearly 60 Hindu pilgrims were burnt to death by a Muslim mob.

That resulted in widespread anti-Muslim riots in the state and Mr Modi was accused of turning a blind eye to the rioting.

A daring attack on Gujarat's world famous Akshardham temple by Muslim extremists also helped Mr Modi to argue that Gujarat was one of the main targets of Islamic terrorism helped by neighbouring Pakistan.

During a politically tense election campaign he repeatedly accused his political rivals of exaggerating Hindu atrocities against the Muslims.

Gujarat conflict in-depth

Key vote

Tense state

Background

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