New Delhi: Narendra Modi`s anointment as BJP`s Prime Ministerial nominee catapults to the national scene the Hindutva poster boy who is seen by his critics as a `polarising` and "divisive" figure after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
A three-time Chief Minister, Modi, a former RSS pracharak (preacher) who will turn 63 on September 17, has battled all odds and stiff opposition from within the party to emerge as the face of BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
It is said about Modi that you may love him or hate him but you cannot ignore him.
By declaring him as its candidate, BJP, backed by RSS, pipped party veteran LK Advani and long-time aspirant for the top post.
In fact, Advani, once a mentor of Modi, strongly opposed the projection of the Gujarat strongman.
Modi, who was a low profile BJP office-bearer till he was made Chief Minister of Gujarat to replace Keshubhai Patel in October 2001, controversially came into limelight in the wake of 2002 riots triggered after 59 Kar Sewaks were killed in Sabarmati Express fire on February 27.
Modi was accused of inaction during the riots in which around 1000 people were killed, most of them Muslims, and is finding it difficult to shed the taint.
The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had reminded him of his "raj dharma" but LK Advani and the late Pramod Mahajan helped Modi to survive as the Chief Minister.
The blot still haunts him, with critics calling him a "polarising" and "divisive" Hindutva hardliner under whose rule Muslims would not be safe.