NEW DELHI, April 8, 2014 (AFP) – For a politician running on a platform of clean government, having a key aide facing murder and extortion charges could be seen as a liability — but not by the man tipped to be India’s next prime minister. Narendra Modi, the hardline Hindu nationalist leading the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into elections this week, first met former stockbroker Amit Shah in the 1980s when both of them were volunteers.
Over the years, Shah, a portly and bearded 50-year-old, has become his closest confidante and key political manager. He is widely expected to take a senior role in any future Modi-run administration.
“Everyone in the party understands that the shortest path to Modi goes via Shah,” said one party insider, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.
The married father of a son was in the eye of a storm at the weekend after reportedly telling supporters to see India’s parliamentary polls as an opportunity for “revenge” against the left-leaning ruling Congress party.
Speaking in an area torn apart by sectarian hatred last August, he will face a criminal investigation after branding the government as one “that protects and gives compensation to those who killed Hindus”.