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Gujarat elections setting national precedent?
AFAR
12/16/2002



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Narendra Modi of the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has won the seat in Gujaratís state election. Of the 182 seats, the party succeeded in gaining 125 of them.

The election has been described as one of the most emotionally and religiously charged in Indian history. Gujaratís population of 33 million consists of 90% Hindus and 10% Muslims.

The worst religious bloodshed in a decade broke out this year in February between the two when a train was set on fire, killing 58 Hindus. In the weeks following, nearly 1,000 Muslims were killed, Muslim women were raped, stores were burned, and tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes.

While Modi does not admit to have taken part in the attacks against the Muslims, human rights activists deem him to be responsible for the genocide.

In his campaigning speeches, he reportedly emphasized the train burning and his eagerness to protect the Hindus from Islamic Pakistan and extremist Muslim militants, but made no mention of the relentless violence that followed after the incident.

India has long praised itself for being the largest democratic nation in the world and having great religious tolerance that the Father of the Nation, Gandhi, has left behind. The question now becomes: Seeing the successfulness of this campaign, will the BJP continue to use this approach in other state elections or even the 2004 national election to win the votes of the Hindu majority?

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