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Incumbent sweeps India’s Gujarat polls

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iol news pic India State Election~8

New Delhi - Hindu right-wing leader Narendra Modi was Thursday re-elected as chief minister of India's western state of Gujarat, boosting his chances to be the country's next premier.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Modi, won 115 of the state's 182 constituencies, with the closest rival Indian National Congress party with 61 seats, the Election Commission announced.

This was Modi's third mandate after ruling Gujarat since 2001. His party won 117 seats in the 2007 elections.

Modi, 62, is known as an efficient administrator who has brought investment to the state by cutting red tape and improving infrastructure. But his administration is tarnished by its failure to control Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002.

The third successive electoral victory puts the controversial politician in a strong position to be the prime ministerial nominee for the BJP, the main opposition party at the national level, in the 2014 general elections, analysts said.

“Gujarat's voters have shown a maturity and risen above religious and caste politics to come together to vote for the future of Gujarat,” Modi said during a televised victory speech in Ahmedabad.

Crowds of BJP workers chanted: “PM, PM,” as Modi spoke.

“I ask the people of Gujarat to forgive me if I have made any mistakes and bless me that I may make no mistakes in the future,” Modi said, without mentioning the riots.

At least 1,000 people, mainly Muslim, were killed in the month-long riots across the state, which were sparked by a mysterious fire on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari said: “Gujarat under Narendra Modi is a role model for good governance and economic development. The people appreciate this. The BJP can replicate this across India and at the national level.”

The BJP, however, failed to retain the northern hill state of Himachal Pradesh, where election results were also announced, losing it to the Congress party.

The BJP went into the elections as the incumbent in both states. - Sapa-dpa


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