Hindu Hardliner Faces Poll Test

December 12, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Gulf Daily News


Millions voted in India's western state of Gujarat yesterday in an election that was supposed to be about a booming economy but turned into a war of words over Hindu-Muslim divisions.

Hindu-majority Gujarat, one of India's richest and fastest growing states but also one of its most communally divided, votes in a two-stage poll that is being closely watched for clues about the fortunes of the country's two main parties.

Early voters queued at polling stations across the 87 constituencies that went to the ballot box yesterday. About 60 per cent of the 5.5 million eligible voters cast their ballot.

The second phase takes place on December 16 and results are expected on December 23. Some 17.9 million voters were eligible to vote for 87 seats in the 182-member assembly.

More than 50,000 federal police, assisted by local security personnel, were guarding the 19,924 polling booths to ensure there were no irregularities. With Hindu-Muslim tensions still apparent, some 4,834 polling stations have been identified as "sensitive". Election Commissioner Navin Chawla appealed to all political parties not to incite "communal" or "caste" passions.