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India's Ruling Alliance Holds Despite Discord

April 15, 2002|From Reuters

NEW DELHI — India's shaky ruling coalition survived a revolt Sunday over its handling of the worst religious violence in a decade, winning at least a reprieve.

The Telugu Desam Party, or TDP, the second largest in the alliance, did not walk out despite its anger at the way the coalition leader, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, has handled complaints over Hindu-Muslim bloodshed in Gujarat state.

But the TDP stopped short of declaring wholehearted support for the alliance, saying it did not discuss withdrawing from the coalition during a strategy meeting that lasted more than five hours Sunday.

The coalition earlier had appealed to the TDP not to quit over the explosion of Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat, saying it was committed to a secular agenda.

Telugu Desam and other coalition members have demanded that the BJP sack its Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, for failing to prevent the bloodshed, in which more than 800 people died, and are furious that it instead protected him and ordered an early state election.

That decision provoked protest from rivals and allies, who said it was a cynical exercise to win votes in Gujarat by cashing in on simmering Hindu anger there.

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