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Are Indian politics headed for a conflagration?
Friday, September 13th, 2013

It's been a rough year for India.

The economy is melting down. A series of gang rapes have outraged the population and tarnished the country's image abroad. 

And on Friday, India's Hindu nationalist party chose a deeply controversial man to be their candidate for prime minister in the 2014 elections.

His name is Narendra Modi. Critics accuse him of allowing the 2002 riots in Gujarat, where he still serves as chief minister, to occur. More than 1,000 people died, mainly Muslims.

(Here he is, defending his actions.)

More recently, Indian press reports accused him of complicity in the murder of political opponents. 

Modi hasn't been found guilty of any wrongdoing in these matters. He is virtually worshipped by many supporters, and despised by others. And he has a very good chance of becoming prime minister.

How the campaign will unfold is uncertain. But it's safe to say that Modi's candidacy is likely to raise the temperature of India's politics. 

And as these photos show, that's saying something. 

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Activists of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shout slogans as they burn an effigy of Punjab state Congress Party Chief Partap Singh Bajwa during a demonstration in Amritsar on July 1, 2013.

(NARINDER NANU - AFP/Getty Images)
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Women activists from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shout slogans against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as they protest against inflation and call for better security for women in New Delhi on July 13, 2013.

(RAVEENDRAN - AFP/Getty Images)
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Members of the Indian National Sikh Youth Forum burn an effigy of Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi during a protest alledging that Modi forced nearly 500 poverty-striken Sikhs residing in the Kutch region to leave the state, in New Delhi on August 5, 2013.

(SAJJAD HUSSAIN - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Bhartiya Janata Prty (BJP) activist burns a placard against Pakistan during a protest against the death of five Indian Army soldiers in cross-border exchanges, in Kolkata on August 6, 2013.

(DIBYANGSHU SARKAR - AFP/Getty Images)
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Chief Minister of Gujarat state and prime ministerial candidate for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi (C) felicitates during the 'Navabharata Yuvabheri' (youth convention for a new India) meeting at the Lal Bahadur stadium in Hyderabad on August 11, 2013.

(NOAH SEELAM - AFP/Getty Images)
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Women's Welfare Organisation activists burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a demonstration in Amritsar on August 22, 2013. The activists demonstrated against the high prices of basic commodities and the Congress party-led national government in New Delhi.

(NARINDER NANU - AFP/Getty Images)
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Commuters look on from a bus window as a fireworks-stuffed effigy of Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi, set on fire by demonstrating Congress party activists, explodes during a strike in Ahmedabad on September 6, 2013.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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Gujarat Congress party supporters shout slogans as they burn an effigy of Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on September 6, 2013.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters celebrate with firecrackers after India's Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi is named the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate for next year's elections, in Ahmedabad on September 13, 2013.

(SAM PANTHAKY - AFP/Getty Images)
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Supporters of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) pose with masks of India's Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi after Modi was named the BJP prime ministerial candidate for next year's elections, in Ahmedabad on September 13, 2013.

(SAM PANTHAKY - AFP/Getty Images)
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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)
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