Narendra Modi, 63, BJP's PM candidate has portrayed himself as a "man of the people", rising from humble roots. He wishes to appeal to masses, especially the crucial rural vote of 600+ million. His father was a tea vendor or "chai wallah". He is Chief Minister of Gujarat since 2001. He has promised quick reforms and an early end to policy paralysis that has contributed to the sharp economic slowdown. Modi is widely seen as a business-friendly reformer who has attracted major investments to Gujarat. And boosted economic growth along with badly needed jobs. Modi's political campaign focuses on Congress' failure to control inflation (especially high food prices which hurt the poor), the sharply decelerating economy which touched a decade-low last year, a lack of job creation and poor governance. He urges people to dream of a better future. However, nationally Modi remains a divisive figure tarnished by riots 11 years ago. He strenuously denies failing to stop the violence, and a Supreme Court inquiry found no evidence to prosecute him.
In 2014, I suspect far more Indian voters will be more interested in what Mr Modi’s economic policies have done for Gujarat - an average of 10% per annum GDP growth – than the unfortunate riots of 11 years ago.
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