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India's Modi condemns anti-Muslim remarks; colleagues remain defiant

Published on Apr 22, 2014 7:38 PM
Abhinandan Pathak, a lookalike of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), prays for Mr Modi's victory in the general election inside a temple in the northern Indian city of Varanasi April 22, 2014. --PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi on Tuesday distanced himself from colleagues on the Hindu far right, saying they must focus on development issues in the election campaign, rather than rail against minority Muslims and liberals.

Mr Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is running on a platform to revive an economy going through the worst slowdown since 1980s.

But half-way through a five-week campaign to win over the country's 815 million voters, some members of the BJP and its hardline affiliates are facing accusations of trying to whip up a partisan agenda.

"Petty statements by those claiming to be BJP's well wishers are deviating the campaign from the issues of development & good governance," Mr Modi, the biggest campaigner for the party, said in a Twitter post. "I disapprove any such irresponsible statement & appeal to those making them to kindly refrain from doing so."

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