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India election chief bans rallies by Modi aide over religious hatred

By Frank Jack Daniel NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Narendra Modi, widely tipped to become India's next prime minister, suffered a setback on Friday when his closest aide was banned from election rallies and meetings after a series of speeches deemed to have stoked tensions with Muslims. Modi, 63, a pro-business Hindu nationalist, is the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which hopes to oust the ruling Congress Party of Rahul Gandhi with its promises of jobs and new infrastructure.

India's Gandhi mocks rival Modi over wedlock confession

Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the ruling Congress party, Friday accused opposition election frontrunner Narendra Modi of hypocrisy over his belated disclosure that he is married. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) premier candidate Modi, 63, is routinely described as a bachelor and is thought to have lived alone in his adult life, having risen through the ranks of a grassroots Hindu nationalist organisation in which celibacy is expected.

Ex-adviser says Indian PM was hobbled by Sonia Gandhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A former media adviser to India's prime minister has alleged in a new book that Manmohan Singh allowed his authority to be undermined by Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party and standard-bearer of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Sanjaya Baru's book, "The Accidental Prime Minister", was published on Friday, days after India began a five-week election that is expected to oust Singh's Congress-led coalition from power after two successive terms.

India's Gandhi mocks rival Modi over wedlock confession

Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the ruling Congress party, Friday accused opposition election frontrunner Narendra Modi of hypocrisy over his belated disclosure that he is married. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) premier candidate Modi, 63, is routinely described as a bachelor and is thought to have lived alone in his adult life, having risen through the ranks of a grassroots Hindu nationalist organisation in which celibacy is expected.

India orders probe into 'inflammatory' remarks by Modi aide

India's election authorities Friday ordered police to investigate remarks by a top aide of prime ministerial frontrunner Narendra Modi that were allegedly aimed at inciting communal violence. The powerful Election Commission also barred Modi's aide Amit Shah, 50, from holding public rallies, meetings and roadshows to keep a check on what it called his "undesirable activities". Shah has been leading the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) general election campaign in the northern Uttar Pradesh state where Hindus dominate but there is a sizeable Muslim community.

Indian election gets personal, rivals attack Modi over marriage

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Rahul Gandhi on Friday laid into opposition candidate Narendra Modi for acknowledging for the first time only this week that he is married, the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter fight to form the next government. Modi, 63, is the favorite to become prime minister when election results are announced on May 16, polls show, and uses stump speeches to accuse the Gandhi family of decades of misrule.

India February industrial output slides surprise 1.9%

India's industrial production slid by an unexpected 1.9 percent in February, data showed Friday, underscoring the the huge economic revival challenge facing the new government that emerges from elections now under way. The tumble in output in February from India's mines, factories and utilities from the same month a year earlier surprised analysts, who had expected a 0.9 percent rise.

Bollywood turns political in India election season

Better known for its romantic escapism, Bollywood is releasing a series of political satires during India's election season that poke fun at corrupt lawmakers and religious tensions. Featuring a goat, a ghost and a disputed dead body, three upcoming releases are aimed at making voters think before they cast their ballots -- although none refers directly to real-life candidates. In family entertainer "Bhoothnath Returns", opening Friday, Bollywood's biggest legend Amitabh Bachchan plays a friendly ghost who takes on an evil and corrupt local politician at the polls.

India's PM front-runner Modi discloses marriage for the first time

AHMEDABAD (Reuters) - Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist who is front-runner to become India's next prime minister, has publicly stated for the first time that he is married. He made the declaration in election papers filed this week, having long avoided questions on his personal life. Modi has campaigned as the standard bearer of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which polls show will win the biggest chunk of parliamentary seats in the five-week election that started on Monday, but fall short of a majority.

As riot-hit Indian region votes, religious divide favors Hindu leader

By Frank Jack Daniel and Manoj Kumar MUZAFFARNAGAR, India (Reuters) - Manoj Balyan wants Narendra Modi to become India's next prime minister when results of a general election are released next month, and not because of the pro-business opposition leader's record as a credible economic manager. Instead, the property broker and village chieftain is drawn to Modi's Hindu nationalist side, believing the candidate will strip privileges from India's minority Muslim population.
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