Final voting in Indian state as Modi seeks win
Long queues formed at polling stations with turnout likely to match the 70 per cent recorded in the first round of voting last week in Gujarat. -AFP
AHMEDABAD, India - Millions of Indians voted Monday in the final stage of Gujarat state elections with Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi seeking a clear victory to bolster his prime ministerial ambitions in 2014.
Long queues formed at polling stations with turnout likely to match the 70 per cent recorded in the first round of voting last week in Gujarat, one of India's fastest-developing regions.
Modi, who secured easy wins in the last two state elections, is looking to win another majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and strengthen his national status, which remains stained by religious riots in Gujarat in 2002.
"It's a very peaceful election," Modi said after casting his vote in the state's largest commercial city Ahmedabad.
"It will be an historic (election) because it has been contested on the issue of good governance and development."
Though Modi has never declared his ambition to be prime minister, he is widely thought to be angling to lead the BJP into the next general election in 2014.
Modi's links to some of the worst sectarian violence in post-independence India make him a hate-figure for many Muslims and secularists.
He is blamed by some rights groups for turning a blind eye to the unrest in Gujarat in 2002, during which as many as 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in an orgy of violence that saw victims set alight or hacked to death in the streets.
He denies any wrongdoing. His main rival in Gujarat is the left-leaning Congress party, which heads the federal coalition government and is dominated by the Gandhi dynasty which has run India for most of its post-independence history.
Election results are expected on December 20.
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