Exit polls predict BJP win
Two exit polls predicted 93 to 109 seats for BJP in Gujarat where polling was held on Thursday.india Updated: Dec 13, 2002 12:33 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seemed headed for victory on Thursday in a watershed election in Gujarat seen as a referendum on its Hindu nationalist policies.
Two exit polls released after voting closed showed the BJP well ahead of the main opposition Congress party.
The Zee Television News said it projected the BJP would win 100 to 105 seats in the 182-seat state assembly, compared to 65 to 70 for the Congress. An exit poll by Aaj Tak television gave the BJP 93 to 109 seats compared to 72 to 88 for the Congress.
Voters earlier piled into polling stations, pushing turnout to an unusually high 63 percent, after an emotionally charged campaign expected to shape the nation's political agenda.
PROTESTS OVER ELECTORAL LISTS
Earlier,the voting was mostly peaceful, though scattered street protests erupted as Hindus and Muslims discovered their names had not been included in the electoral register.
In the district of Naroda Patia, on the outskirts ofAhmedabad, some people who had fled the state during the riots found on returning to vote that their names had been omitted from the electoral list.
Naib Ansari complained that he could not produce a ration card, one of the documents voters are allowed to use to prove their identity. "My house was burnt. My ration card was burnt in it. How can I produce a ration card?" he asked.
Police said there were complaints from all parts of the state about the voters' list, but no major violence had been reported.
"There is bound to be anger if people's names are not on the list. There are reports coming in from all parts of the state of people outside in the streets very upset," state police official Mani Ram said.
In Ahmedabad's Maninagar district, around 100 BJP supporters shouted slogans and were later dispersed by riot police.
Official results are due on Sunday and are expected to set the tone for the fractious national coalition government.
Victory would strengthen the BJP's hand within the coalition at the Centre, though political analysts have said too big a BJP victory could backfire on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by encouraging hardliners,who see him as too moderate.
The BJP won 117 seats in the last state election in 1998, while turnout was 59 percent.
First Published: Dec 12, 2002 19:57 IST