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Right-hand man of India's election frontrunner Modi dogged by murder charges

Published on Mar 2, 2014 10:38 AM
Mr Amit Shah, a leader of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), speaks during a news conference in the northern Indian city of Lucknow on March 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

AHMEDABAD, India (REUTERS) - Amit Shah is charged with three counts of murder. He is also a key election campaign manager and close aide of Narendra Modi, the frontrunner to become India's next prime minister.

To supporters, Shah's proven talent in winning elections makes him the obvious choice to run Mr Modi's campaign in Uttar Pradesh, a swing state that holds the key to national power.

But for critics, Mr Modi's ties to Shah are proof that there is a dark side to the Hindu nationalist leader now storming ahead in opinion polls on promises to sweep away corruption and economic mismanagement.

Mr Modi's popularity stems in large part from his record of governance as chief minister of Gujarat state, an economic powerhouse. But he himself is dogged by accusations that he turned a blind eye to sectarian riots in Gujarat, in which at least 1,000 people - mainly Muslims - were killed in 2002. He denies any wrongdoing and the Supreme Court has said there is not enough evidence to proceed against him.

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