India opposition hardliner Modi makes up with ex-mentor Advani

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Hardliner Narendra Modi, the frontman of India's main opposition party next year's Indian elections, held fence-mending talks with the party's elder statesman L.K. Advani on Tuesday after a fallout with his former mentor.

Mr Advani, an 85-year-old stalwart of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who is also a former deputy premier, quit the party last week hours after Mr Modi was picked to head the party's election committee.

He was later persuaded to rescind his resignation but his return to the fold did little to counter the impression the party is badly split with less than a year before nationwide elections must take place.

The two men spoke for an hour behind closed doors, said an AFP photographer outside Mr Advani's residence in New Delhi.

A source close to Mr Advani told the Press Trust of India they had a "good meeting", debating strategy after a partner quit the opposition alliance at the weekend.

The Janata Dal United (JDU) pulled out of the BJP-led alliance saying it feared Mr Modi's anti-Muslim image could scare off voters.

Mr Modi, currently the chief minister of thriving Gujarat state in western India is likely to be tapped as the candidate for the prime minister's post should his party win elections.

He has taken pains to paint himself as a pro-business reformist who can revive the fortunes of the world's largest democracy.

But he remains a divisive figure nationally after being accused of doing little to stop religious riots in his state in 2002 in which some 2,000 people - mainly Muslims - were killed.