India's Modi crowned as opposition prime minister candidate

The country is due to go to the polls by May 2014.


Afp/reuters September 13, 2013
Modi celebrating his nomination. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi was crowned as the candidate for prime minister of India's main opposition party on Friday, cementing the remarkable rise of a leader adored by business but tainted by deadly religious riots that broke out on his watch.

"It's BJP tradition to announce its PM candidate before Lok Sabha elections. So today our parliamentary board decided that Sri Nadrendra Modiji will be our PM candidate," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh said at a press conference.

The country is due to go to the polls by May 2014.

In June, Modi, popularly known as "NaMo", was selected to head the BJP's campaign in the 2014 elections, a move that saw senior leader LK Advani resign from top party posts in protest.

The Hindu-nationalist BJP has been fractured by squabbling among its leaders, with several fearing Modi being too divisive a figure who could deter voters from minority religions, particularly Muslims.

Modi, 62, has sought to paint himself as a pro-business reformist who could revive Asia's third-largest economy, which is growing at its slowest rate in a decade and is struggling with a currency at near record lows.

Though the market-friendly leader has been popular with the corporate world, he remains tarred by the Gujarat riots in 2002, in which as many as 2,000 people were killed, mainly Muslims, according to rights groups.

Modi denied any wrongdoing, but one of his former ministers was jailed last year for orchestrating some of the violence and the Supreme Court once likened him to Nero, the emperor who fiddled while Rome burned.

Rahul Gandhi, 43, who is some two decades younger than Modi and heir to India's most powerful political dynasty, has been groomed by the Congress party to take over the reins from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

But he remains reluctant to be pushed to the fore and doubts remain about his ability and hunger for the job.

The Congress-led government is lagging badly in the polls, its popularity sapped by the economic downturn and a slew of corruption scandals.

COMMENTS (105)

Aditya Muley | 8 years ago | Reply @ayesha: He does have support from the muslim community in India.
Prabhjyot Singh Madan | 8 years ago | Reply

@Anand: Calm down bjp has no chance to come back to power. Up Indian muslims will not vote for them. South india and eastern india will vote for the secular parties....nitish Kumar has pulled out. Orrisa no chance, Malta bannerjee will not act against minorities. The modi tsunami is restricted to north and western india. Chillax, congress will come back but with lesser numbers. Jaitley was a good choice, shushma but now we are going to vote for congress. Rab rakha

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