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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 December 2007, 09:23 GMT
Modi begins new term in Gujarat
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi is credited with pursuing liberal economic policies
Narendra Modi has been sworn in as the chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat for a third consecutive term.

Mr Modi was sworn in at a ceremony in the state capital, Ahmedabad.

His Hindu nationalist BJP won 117 of 182 seats in the state assembly - its fourth consecutive victory. Its main rival, the Congress party, won 59.

Mr Modi has been accused of failing to protect Muslims in the riots in Gujarat during which 1,000 people died.

Referendum

Correspondents say the BJP's victory in Gujarat will boost the party ahead of a general election due in 18 months.

Mr Modi took his oath from the state governor at a stadium in Ahmedabad.

He joined other leaders attending to take a "victory lap" around the stadium - in a jeep.

On Monday, state party leaders elected Mr Modi as the leader of the legislative party, paving the way for him to continue as the chief minister.

Analysts say Mr Modi, who is credited with pursuing successful economic policies, turned the election into a referendum over himself - defying local party chiefs.

BJP supporters after the win in Gujarat
The Gujarat victory is a big boost to the BJP

At a meeting of party workers on Monday, however, he refused this.

"It is a perverted thought to say I am bigger than the party," he said.

"If you [media] widen your focus, you would see thousands of BJP workers who have lifted me up on their shoulders."

Indian newspapers have variously described Mr Modi's victory as "historic" and "triumphant".

The Times of India said: "He has led the BJP to its fourth consecutive win in Gujarat defying anti-incumbency factors and a rebellion within the party."

The Congress party campaigned hard to defeat him, with major rallies by its top leaders including Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, the latest member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in Indian politics.

But their defeat means that it is back to the drawing board and a major setback ahead of the more important national poll, the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
BJP supporters celebrate their election victory



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