In a bid to stop the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from returning to power in a province scarred by religious violence, Muslim voters in Gujarat are expected to turn out in large numbers when polling for the state assembly elections begins tomorrow morning. Muslims constitute only around 10 per cent of the state's 33 million voters, but if they cast their votes en masse, it could swing the outcome in a close race between the BJP and the opposition Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi. Social activist Farah Naqvi said: 'The Muslims have been devastated by the riots, but they see the vote as the one last instrument they have to assert their citizenship of India.' Ms Naqvi works with women victims near Godhra, the town where an arson attack on a Hindu pilgrim train earlier this year triggered widespread retaliatory attacks on Muslims across the western Indian state. According to estimates by human rights groups, more than 2,000 Muslims were killed in the riots and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed. But the local BJP government has been accused not only of abetting the violence, but also of failing to properly rehabilitate the victims or seriously prosecute the guilty. Hanif Lakdavala, who runs a non-governmental organisation in Gujarat, said: 'For the Muslims, this is the most crucial election ever. Justice is the first thing they want.' Hindu radicals within the BJP and allied groups have staked their political future on the Gujarat election, conducting an emotionally charged - often vicious - campaign painting Muslims as anti-nationals sympathetic to Pakistan, India's Muslim-majority neighbour. The BJP has not put up a single Muslim candidate for the state's 182 assembly seats. But the Congress Party, apparently afraid of alienating its Hindu supporters if it appears too close to the Muslims, has also ignored the community throughout the election campaign, which ended yesterday. The demolition by Hindu militants of a 16th century Mughal mosque in northern India under Congress Party rule had turned away Muslims voters. But Muslim support for the party has trickled back in the past four years after the Italian-born Ms Gandhi took charge of the party.