Modi seeks another win in Gujarat elections

Updated 13 December 2012
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Modi seeks another win in Gujarat elections

AHMEDABAD, India: Millions voted yesterday in India’s Gujarat state where Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi is expecting another win, 10 years after anti-Muslim riots on his watch.
Crowds thronged polling stations in the first of two rounds of voting in the western state, one of India’s fastest developing regions that has been run since 2001 by Chief Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Polling officials said over 10 million people out of the 38-million-strong electorate had cast their ballots in the first seven hours, amid reports that many more were still queuing up at voting centers.
“It is a BJP storm in Gujarat,” Modi announced at an election rally in the state’s Siddhpur region. “Wherever there is voting, records of all previous polls have been broken,” he told cheering supporters.
Modi, who has secured thumping victories in the last two polls, is looking to secure another sizeable majority for the BJP to bolster his reputation.
Though he has never declared his ambition to be prime minister, his desire for the top spot in his party is an open secret and he is widely thought to be angling to lead the BJP into national elections due 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 which as many as 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
His main rival in Gujarat is the left-leaning Congress party, which runs the federal government and is dominated by the Gandhi dynasty which has run India for most of its post-independence history.
Rahul Gandhi, the next-in-line who might face Modi in the 2014 national polls, has campaigned locally where he accused his rival of being autocratic and ignoring the poor in the home state of late independence hero Mahatma Gandhi.
“He wants to hear only his own voice. He has his dream and he thinks only about his own dream,” Gandhi told supporters on Tuesday.
The final phase of the balloting is scheduled for Dec. 17, with counting to take place three days later.
Some 100,000 security personnel including federal troopers are on duty at around 45,000 polling stations — some 17,000 of which are labeled “vulnerable” to violence — the state home department said.
On Wednesday, Modi was back in the headlines after claiming the federal government was set to “hand over” a disputed strip of water in Gujarat to neighbor Pakistan.


86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

Updated 20 min 56 sec ago
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86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

  • Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009
  • The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades

JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”