Gujarat polls: Polling ends in Indian state

Narendra Modi greets his supporters after casting his vote in the second phase of Gujarat assembly elections in Ahmedabad on 17 Dec 2012
Image caption Mr Modi has been tipped as a potential future prime minister

Voting has ended in the second and final phase of polls in India's Gujarat state where Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi is seeking re-election.

There were long queues at many polling centres and election commission officials said an estimated 68-69% voters had cast their ballots.

The polls are seen as a referendum on the popularity of Mr Modi, who has ruled the state since October 2001.

Mr Modi has been tipped as a potential future prime minister.

Under his leadership, Gujarat has been turned into one of India's economic powerhouses.

Nearly 40 million people were eligible to vote in 182 assembly constituencies in the state.


Voting was held in 95 of these constituencies during the second phase of polls on Monday. Counting is set for Thursday.

Voting took place in central and north Gujarat, the Ahmedabad city area and in Kutch district.

Mr Modi was among the early voters in the state on Monday.

"It's a very peaceful election," he said after casting his vote in Ahmedabad.

"It will be a historic [election] because it has been contested on the issue of good governance and development," he said.

"I thank all the voters. In this election, people of Gujarat will make a hat-trick by giving a third term to us. People of the state will once again vote BJP to power... the sentiments of people here is giving you a clear indication of that," Mr Modi said.

His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has governed the state for 15 years, is facing a Congress party challenge in the election.

Mr Modi is also seen as India's most divisive politician.

He was chief minister of the state during the 2002 religious riots when more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

He was accused of doing little to stop the riots and in subsequent years the US denied him visas.

In October the UK's high commissioner in India, James Bevan, met Mr Modi, ending a 10-year boycott of the controversial leader.

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