India polls: BJP 'star' Narendra Modi to lead campaign

Narendra Modi (28 April 2012) Narendra Modi is a deeply divisive figure

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Controversial Indian politician Narendra Modi has been chosen to lead the main opposition party's campaign for elections due next year.

The Gujarat chief minister is seen as a rising star in the Hindu nationalist BJP and tipped as a possible candidate for prime minister.

He is credited with making Gujarat one of India's most prosperous states.

But Mr Modi is also accused of doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots in 2002 which left more than 1,000 dead.

His appointment as head of the Bharatiya Janata Party's election campaign committee came at a meeting of the national executive to plan for elections due by May 2014.

However some senior party leaders including former deputy prime minister L K Advani stayed away from the party convention in Goa.

'Charismatic'

The elevation of Narendra Modi is widely expected to make him the party's candidate for prime minister in 2014, says the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.

Mr Modi, 62, has been chief minister in Gujarat since 2001.

He has massive support both within the party as well as among India's middle classes and business community who see him as a charismatic leader who has turned Gujarat into an economic powerhouse, our correspondent says.

In recent months he has been courted by international investors and foreign diplomats, and his image is that of a clean and efficient administrator who is corruption-free.

But Mr Modi is also a deeply divisive figure, feared by many, including the country's Muslim minority because of the 2002 Gujarat riots which took place under his watch, our correspondent says.

Although Mr Modi has escaped censure over the Gujarat riots so far, his close aide, Maya Kodnani, was recently convicted and sent to jail for 28 years.

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