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Close Modi aide chosen India’s ruling party chief

July 9, 2014

NEW DELHI (AP) — A close aide of India’s prime minister who is widely credited with his party’s spectacular electoral win was appointed Wednesday chief of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Amit Shah was unanimously chosen as the BJP’s new president at a meeting of party leaders in New Delhi. He replaces Rajnath Singh, who recently was sworn in as home minister in Narendra Modi’s Cabinet.

Shah, 50, is widely seen as the architect of the BJP’s spectacular win in northern India, especially in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. The BJP cornered 71 of the 80 parliament seats in Uttar Pradesh, ensuring that it emerged as the single largest party in Parliament.

Shah was an activist with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the National Volunteers Association, a militant Hindu movement and parent organization of the BJP. A longtime Modi confidant, Shah served as junior home minister of Gujarat state when Modi was the state’s chief minister.

Shah resigned from the minister’s post and spent three months in jail in 2010 on charges of sanctioning the police killing of a small-time criminal and his wife. Shah, who denies the accusations, was released on bail and the case is ongoing.

A sharp political strategist, Shah is expected to play a key role in upcoming elections in three major states of Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand. The BJP is hoping to wrest control of all three states from the main opposition Congress party.

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