Published On: Sun, Mar 2nd, 2014


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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 Modi’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh, a swing state that holds the
key to national power.But for critics, 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.
Modi’s popularity stems in large part from his record of governance as
chief minister of Gujarat, 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.
“We were shocked,” said Mukul Sinha, a lawyer representing relatives
of victims in the cases against Shah, commenting on his appointment as
campaign manager for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar
Pradesh, the country’s most populous state.
“This man faces criminal charges. But if Modi wins, he could be one of
India’s most powerful politicians,” he said, referring to the
possibility that Shah could become a senior federal minister.
An election due by May will pit Modi’s BJP against the Nehru-Gandhi
dynasty’s Congress party, whose popularity has wilted after two terms
in power amid a sharp economic slowdown and corruption scandals. The
BJP says Congress and other parties pander to minorities for votes.
Congress counters that Modi and the BJP are biased, especially against

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