Scandals dog top aide to India's would-be PM Modi

Scandals dog top aide to India's would-be PM Modi
Even those colleagues who resent his aloofness acknowledge Amit Shah's acumen and respect his unflinching loyalty to Modi. His patron has reciprocated, sticking by him through multiple scandals.

NEW DELHI - 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".

More than 50 people died in the district of Muzaffarnagar in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where several BJP members were already facing charges of inciting violence against Muslims.

Modi is reviled by many of India's Muslims due to religious riots in Gujarat in 2002 when he was chief minister. At least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

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