JAMMU: India prime ministerial candidate and Hindu hardliner Narendra Modi promised unity and development on Sunday during a rally in the restive Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi, a popular but polarising figure, told a rally of thousands of people that he would work for the good of the whole state through increased development if he wins a general election due next May.

The rally was the first for Modi in the region, racked by years of separatist violence, since he was named as candidate for the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in September.

“I am not here to talk about Hindus and Muslims. If you want progress then you need to have politics of unity and that will ensure progress,” Modi, 63, said in a speech in the Hindu-majority city of Jammu.

“We should have only one religion – nation first. There should be only one religious text – our constitution,” he said to cheers.

Security was tight in Jammu, the winter capital of India's only Muslim-majority state, with several thousand police and paramilitary forces deployed, according to local police sources.

“Security arrangements were very elaborate, not only in Jammu city but in the whole region,” Inspector General Rajesh Kumar told AFP.

A string of bomb blasts killed six people at a rally by Modi in the eastern city of Patna in October, shortly before he took to the stage.

Modi is seen by critics as a divisive figure who failed to stop the 2002 riots in the western state of Gujarat where he has governed as chief minister since 2001.

The riots killed some 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Modi has denied any wrongdoing.

Since being named prime ministerial candidate, he has been building his image as a pro-business administrator and stressing inclusive politics.

Political leaders in recent weeks have been campaigning across the country in five state elections, which are seen as a litmus test for Modi and the ruling Congress party before the general election.

Vote-counting for all five state elections starts on December 8, with results expected soon after.

About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces in Kashmir since 1989 for independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan. The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which is divided between the neighbours but claimed in full by both.

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Comments (15)

fida sayani
December 1, 2013 8:49 pm

Modi is a hypocrite. Man responsible for the killing of 2000 Indian Muslims in Gujarat is talking about one religion and one constitution. If Indian have one iota of decency in them, they should try him for the crimes committed under his administration.

Jaswinder Singh
December 1, 2013 9:35 pm

modi you not gonna make it period.

francis
December 1, 2013 10:45 pm

“We should have only one religion – nation first. There should be only one religious text – our constitution,” he said to cheers. Very much a part of western thought. Excellent idea.

Raza
December 1, 2013 11:05 pm

Way to go Mr. Modi! In the 21st century, you are the jewel from the bronze age!!

Nadeem Mirza
December 2, 2013 12:00 am

After taking part in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the name of religion, now he wants to talk about unity and progress. He is a criminal and should be tried and punished as such.

Sandip
December 2, 2013 12:27 am

Modi is one man army. ...He had already made his name in history. . he is single handedly driving whole Indian politics

ashok
December 2, 2013 5:25 am

Atal behari Vajpayae was much more cherishmatic personality then Narender Modi,much more firey and furious anti muslim leader India has ever seen,could not win election on his own because voters in India are more mature and educated in India then in Pakistan.Therefore Modi will never be a prime minister of India.

syed
December 2, 2013 7:32 am

Modi is the best candidate for PM.

pcv
December 2, 2013 12:53 pm

Dear Pakistanis only Narendra Modi. can ensure peace with Pakistan. He is truly secular leader, others are all propaganda by corrupt congress by spreading fear and appeasing others. Modi is already more popular than Vajpayee. Like Vajpayee he will soon be very popular in Pakistan as well

imaan
December 2, 2013 3:12 pm

He is a good candidate for India. Being a sound administrator and has proved he will work towards better unification of the land and its people. whereas the he will continue to tow the moderate line for business in india, in context of FDI.

Sound candidate and should win.

Raju
December 2, 2013 3:33 pm

@fida sayani: Now worry about your problems, we know how to deal with them very well.

Swastika
December 2, 2013 3:49 pm

People from all the three regions of J&K had assembled in advance since morning. Wasn't a word he said wrong or aimed at divisive politics.He has imbibed new hope and enthusiasm in people regarding progress and politics.Hope he delivers as promises As for 'Image' most riots have taken place in Congress regime and India has left its past behind since long.When people in Gujarat are living peacefully without a single piece of any violent activity for 11 years,why is rest of the world so bothered?

Tina
December 2, 2013 3:50 pm

@fida sayani: Firstly, get your facts right. around 1000 people were killed in gujarat riots including the non-muslims. so do not exaggerate the figure. By the way How many christians and shias were killed in your country in last year. i hope you know the exact number!!

Secondly, a pakistani vouching for decency related to matters of religious tolerance!! . What are you doing for your minorities??

Kindly check your backyard before throwing stones on your neighbours. For gods sake stop this hypocrisy!!!

Kumar
December 2, 2013 9:46 pm

modi try luring the innocent people somewhere else no one is going to listen to you because you have a bad track record you must quit politics.

Vish1
December 4, 2013 8:24 am

@Jaswinder Khan: Well tried :-)

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