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BJP chooses Narendra Modi as candidate for India's next prime minister

India's opposition Hindu fundamentalist party chose the controversial former chief minister of Gujarat as its candidate for prime minister in the 2014 elections.

Narendra modi india prime minister candidate bjp september 13 2013Enlarge
Gujarat Congress party supporters shout slogans as they burn a fireworks-stuffed effigy of Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi during a strike in Ahmedabad on September 6, 2013. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Narendra Modi, the controversial chief minister of Gujarat, was chosen by India's main opposition party as its candidate for prime minister in the upcoming 2014 elections on Friday.

The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party had already chosen Modi to lead the party's campaign in June, but Friday saw crowds of supporters gather in New Delhi as Modi's candidacy was formally announced.

"I assure that I will leave no stone unturned in working for a BJP victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha (lower house) elections," Modi said in a statement. "I seek the blessings of the people in our efforts to free our nation of the turbulent times we are going through."

Modi enjoys strong support from many in India's middle class and business communities, and is credited with turning the state of Gujarat into an "economic powerhouse," as the BBC noted.

A poll conducted by Nielsen/Economic Times found that 74 percent of 100 corporate leaders wanted Modi to be prime minister, while the Congress party's Rahul Gandhi only earned the backing of seven percent.

Modi's rise to power wasn't without its hurdles, with some leaders of the BJP arguing that he was too polarizing a figure for voters from religious minorities.

He has yet to escape the shadow of the 2002 riots in Gujarat, in which an estimated 2,000 people — mainly Muslims — were killed, according to rights groups.

The United Kingdom and the European Union boycotted Modi for nearly a decade over allegations that he didn't do enough to stop the riots, while the United States denied him a visa. Recent months, however, have seen a thawing in his relations with Western nations.

The BBC said Modi has "never expressed any remorse or offered any apologies for the riots." 

More from GlobalPost: Narendra Modi: Police, murder and India’s next prime minister

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130913/narendra-modi-bjp-candidate-india-prime-minister