Hindu nationalist BJP wins elections in western state of Gujarat

Indian election officials say Hindu nationalists have won a victory in state elections in western India, buttressing the political strength of Narendra Modi, the Hindu ideologue whose supporters have long called for him to become prime minister.

With nearly all votes counted, television reports from Gujarat state, where Modi has been chief minister since 1998, say his Bharatiya Janata Party was expected to win 120 seats in the state parliament, up from 117 seats. Its closest rival, the Congress party, is expected to win 58.

The Congress, which leads India's national government, has been weakened in recent years amid relentless corruption scandals.

BJP leaders have long presented Modi as a potential prime minister. On Thursday, party officials dodged questions of his role in the next national elections, expected in 2014.