NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s main opposition party, announced on Sunday that Narendra Modi will head its 2014 election campaign, indicating he would likely be its choice for prime minister if the party were to win.
Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, is known for pushing a hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda.
Several top leaders of the BJP including Lal Krishna Advani declined to attend the three-day party conference that was held in the southwestern beach resort state of Goa and wherein Modi was awarded the post, fearing that the party will fare badly in the upcoming countrywide elections due to Modi’s polarizing image.
But the party’s president Rajnath Singh said the decision to elevate Modi as the party’s campaign chief had widespread support in the party.
“The decision was unanimous. The entire party has faith in Modi. BJP considers the 2014 parliamentary elections to be a major challenge,” Singh told reporters.
Modi was the top elected official in Gujarat when religious riots broke out in the state in 2001, killing more than 1,100 people, mostly Muslims. While he was never charged with a crime, his critics say he did little to stop the three months of rioting.