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Narendra Modi: A divisive figure in India

Loved and loathed in almost equal measure, Narendra Modi is a vexingly polarising figure in India. He is the frontrunner in the race be the prime minister of India as the country suffers from a sluggish economy.

NEW DELHI: Loved and loathed in almost equal measure, Narendra Modi is a vexingly polarising figure.

As the 14th chief minister of Gujarat, he turned the state in west India into an economic powerhouse.

Modi is also the frontrunner in the race be the prime minister of India as the country suffers from a sluggish economy.

In the general elections of 2014, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had promised to turn around the financial fortune of India, under the Modi's stewardship.

Modi said: "You have chosen rulers for 60 years, now give a chance to a servant. You have given 60 years to Congress, try giving me 60 months."

Modi was born three years after India's independence into a hand-to-mouth existence, selling tea in his hometown of Vadnagar in Gujarat.

As a school boy he joined the Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent body of BJP.

He has been unsparing in his attacks towards Congress.

The 2002 religious riots in Gujarat however, are Modi's Achilles' heel.

He is accused of doing little to stop the communal frenzy when more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. The charge was later rejected by the Supreme Court-appointed committee probing the riots.

Minority communities represent some 150 million people and Modi has been trying to reach out to them.

Political analyst Neerja Choudhury said: "So, somewhere he's been trying to reach out to them and they still view him with huge reservations because of 2002 (riots) which continues to be a wound in the hearts of the minorities."

Despite the baggage of communal violence that continues to dog Modi, even the US has softened its stance against him.

Major powers and industrialists are also warming to the man behind Gujarat's tremendous economic growth. 


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