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Narendra Modi

Narendra Damodardas Modi  born 17 September 1950) is an Indian politician and is the 14th Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat. He is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance for the upcoming 2014 Indian general elections.
Modi was a key strategist for the BJP in the successful 1995 and 1998 Gujarat state election campaigns, and was a major campaign figure in the 2009 general elections, eventually won by the Indian National Congress-led UPA.[2][2] He first became chief minister of Gujarat in October 2001 after the resignation of his predecessor, Keshubhai Patel, and following the defeat of BJP in the by-elections. In July 2007, he became the longest-serving Chief Minister in Gujarat's history, at which point he had been in power for 2,063 days continuously. He is currently serving his fourth consecutive term as Chief Minister.
Modi is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and is described as a Hindu nationalist by media, scholars and himself.[3][4][5][6] He is a controversial figure both within India and internationally.[7][8][9][10] His administration has been criticised for the incidents surrounding the 2002 Gujarat violence.[10][11] He has been praised for his economic policies, which are credited with creating an environment for a high rate of economic growth in Gujarat.[12] However, his administration has also been criticised for failing to make a significant positive impact upon the human development of the state.[13]

Early life and education

Modi was born on 17 September 1950[14] to a family of grocers in Vadnagar in Mehsana district of what was then Bombay State (present-day Gujarat), India.[15] He was the third of six children born to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and his wife, Heeraben.[16][17] As a child, he helped his father sell tea at the Vadnagar railway station and on trains.[18] As a teenager, Modi ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus.[19] He completed his schooling in Vadnagar, where a teacher described him as being an average student, but a keen debater.[17] When he was a child, he was involved in theatre and he later incorporated his theatre experiences to sell politics and to stand out from crowd while giving speeches.[20] Modi was a fan of Rajesh Khanna, and Modi's style of wearing half-sleeved knee-length kurtas and delivering speeches is inspired by the actor.[21]
As a child, his parents had arranged him a marriage in keeping with the traditions of the Ghanchi caste in Vadnagar. Modi was engaged to Jashodaben Chimanlal, from the neighboring town of Brahamanwada at the age of 17.[22] At the pretext of a higher calling, Joshodaben claims she was deserted and never given the privileges of a wife.[23] Narendra Modi admitted under oath that Jashodaben is his wife when he submitted nomination papers for the Vadodara constituency in April for 2014 Loksabha elections.[24] The couple's marriage was not consummated.[25][26][27] However, in February 2014, in Himachal Pradesh, Narendra Modi had said that his single status makes him the best person to fight corruption.[28][29]
He began work in the staff canteen of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation, where he worked until he became a full–time pracharak (campaigner) of the RSS in 1970.[17][30][31] After Modi had received some RSS training in Nagpur, which was a prerequisite for taking up an official position in the Sangh Parivar, he was given charge of Sangh's student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), in Gujarat. Modi organised agitations and covert distribution of Sangh's pamphlets during the Emergency.[17] During his years in the RSS, Modi came in touch with Vasant Gajendragadkar and Nathalal Jaghda, leaders of the Jan Sangh, who later founded the BJP's Gujarat state unit.[31] Modi remained a pracharak in the RSS while he completed his Master's degree in political science from Gujarat University.[32]

Early political career

The RSS assigned Modi to the BJP in 1985.[31][33] While Shankarsingh Vaghela and Keshubhai Patel were the established names in the Gujarat BJP at that time, Modi rose to prominence after organising Murli Manohar Joshi's Ekta yatra (journey for unity).[17] In 1988, Modi was elected as General secretary of BJP's Gujarat unit,[30] and his electoral strategy was central to BJP's victory in the 1995 state elections.[31][33][34]
In November 1995, Modi was elected as the National Secretary of BJP.[35] In May 1998, Modi was elevated to the post of the General Secretary of the BJP and was transferred to New Delhi where he was assigned responsibility for the party's activities in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.[33] After Vaghela, who had threatened to break away from BJP in 1995, defected from the BJP after he lost the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, Modi was promoted to the post of National Secretary of the BJP in 1998.[17] While selecting candidates for the 1998 state elections in Gujarat, Modi favored people who were loyal to Patel over those loyal to Vaghela, helping to put an end to the factional divisions within the party. His strategies were credited as being key to winning the 1998 elections.[33]

Chief Minister of Gujarat

In 2001, Keshubhai Patel health was failing, and the BJP had lost seats in the by-elections. Allegations of abuse of power, corruption and poor administration were being made, and Patel's standing had been damaged by his administration's handling of the Bhuj Earthquake of 2001.[33][36][37] As a result, BJP's national leadership sought a new candidate for the office of chief minister, and Modi, who had aired his misgivings about Patel's administration, was chosen as a replacement.[17] L. K. Advani, a senior leader of the BJP, however, did not want to ostracise Patel and was worried about Modi's lack of experience in governance. However, Modi declined an offer to be Patel's deputy chief minister, informing Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he was "going to be fully responsible for Gujarat or not at all", and on 7 October 2001, Modi was appointed the Chief Minister of Gujarat, with the responsibility of preparing the BJP for elections in December 2002. As Chief Minister, Modi's ideas of governance revolved around privatisation and small government, which stood at odds with what Aditi Phadnis has described as the "anti-privatisation, anti-globalisation position" of the RSS.[36]

First term (2001-2002)

2002 Gujarat violence

On 27 February 2002, a train with several hundred passengers including large numbers of Hindu pilgrims was burned near Godhra, killing around 60 people.[a] Following rumors that the fire was carried out by Muslim arsonists, anti-Muslim violence spread throughout Gujarat.[40] Estimates of the death toll ranged from 900 to over 2,000, while several thousand more people were injured.[41][42] The Modi government imposed a curfew in major cities, issued shoot-at-sight orders, and called for the army to prevent the violence from escalating.[43][44] However, human rights organizations, opposition parties, and sections of the media all accused Gujarat's government of taking insufficient action against the violence, and even condoning it in some cases.[43][44][45] In April 2009, the Supreme Court of India appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into the Gujarat government and Narendra Modi's role in the incidents of communal violence.[45] The SIT reported to the court in December 2010 submitting that they did not find any incriminating evidence against Modi of willfully allowing communal violence in the state.[46] Modi's decision to move the corpses of the kar sevaks who had been burned to death in Godhra to Ahmedabad had been criticized for inflaming the violence.[47][48]
Despite the SIT report, Modi's involvement in the events of 2002 has continued to be debated. Though the SIT absolved Modi in April 2012 of any involvement in the Gulbarg Society massacre, one of the many riots that occurred in 2002,[49][50] the Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae, Raju Ramachandran, observed on 7 May 2012 that Modi could be prosecuted for promoting enmity among different groups during the 2002 Gujarat violence. His main contention was that the evidence should be examined by a court of law because the SIT was required to investigate but not to judge.[51] The amicus report was criticised by the Special Investigation Team for relying heavily on the testimony of Sanjiv Bhatt, who they said had fabricated the documents used report.[52] In July 2013, victim Zakia Jafri alleged that the SIT was suppressing evidence.[53]

2002 election

In the aftermath of the violence, calls for Modi to resign from his position as chief minister of Gujarat came from both inside and outside the state. The opposition parties stalled the national parliament over the issue. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), allies of the BJP, asked for Modi's resignation, as did Jayalalithaa, the then-Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).[54][55] As a result, Modi submitted his resignation and the state Assembly was dissolved.[56] In the subsequent elections the BJP, led by Modi, won 127 seats in the 182-member assembly.[57]

Second term (2002–2007)

Despite using anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign,[58][59][60] Modi's emphasis shifted during his second term from Hindutva to the economic development of Gujarat.[36] Modi's decisions curtailed the influence of organizations of the Sangh Parivar such as the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP),[61] which had become entrenched in Gujarat after the decline of Ahmedabad's textile industry.[36] Modi dropped Gordhan Zadaphia, an ally of his former Sangh co–worker and VHP state chief Praveen Togadia, from the cabinet ministry. When the BKS launched a farmers' agitation, Modi ordered their eviction from houses provided by the state government.[61] Modi's decision to demolish 200 illegal temples in Gandhinagar deepened the rift with VHP.[61][62] Various organisations of the Sangh were no longer consulted nor informed of Modi's administrative decisions prior to their enactment.[61]
The changes brought by Modi in the period 2002–2007 has led to Gujarat being called an attractive investment destination. Aditi Phadnis, author of Political Profiles of Cabals & Kings and columnist in the Business Standard, writes that "there was sufficient anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that corruption had gone down significantly in the state... if there was to be any corruption, Modi had to know about it".[36] Modi started financial and technology parks in the state. During the 2007 Vibrant Gujarat summit, real estate investment deals worth INR6.6 trillion were signed in Gujarat.[36]
Despite his focus on economic issues during the second term, Modi continued to be criticised for his relationship with Muslims. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then Prime Minister of India, who had asked Modi not to discriminate between citizens in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat violence and had pushed for his resignation as Chief Minister of Gujarat,[63][64] distanced himself from Modi and reached out to North Indian Muslims before the 2004 elections to the Lok Sabha. After the elections, Vajpayee held the violence in Gujarat as one of the reasons for BJP's electoral defeat and acknowledged that not removing Modi immediately after the Gujarat violence was a mistake.[65][66]

Terrorism and elections in 2007–2008

In the lead up to assembly and general elections in 2007–2008, the BJP stepped up its rhetoric on terrorism.[67] On 18 July 2006, Modi criticised the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, "... for his reluctance to revive anti-terror legislations" such as the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act. He asked the national government to allow states to invoke tougher laws in the wake of the 2006 blasts in Mumbai.[68] Around this time Modi frequently demanded the execution of Afzal Guru,[69] a collaborator of the Pakistani jihadists who had been convicted of terrorism for his involvement in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.[70][b] As a consequence of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, Modi held a meeting to discuss security of Gujarat's 1,600 km (990 mi) long coastline which resulted in the central government authorization of 30 high–speed surveillance boats.[71]
In July 2007, Modi completed 2,063 consecutive days as chief minister of Gujarat in July 2007, making him the longest-serving holder of that post.[72] The BJP won 122 of the 182 seats in the state assembly in the 2007 election, and Modi continued as chief minister.[73]
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