POLITICS

Indian PM Narendra Modi was first to be born in independent India

04/15/2015 04:53 EDT | Updated 06/25/2015 04:59 EDT
OTTAWA - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a three-day visit to Canada. Here are five things to know about the charismatic and controversial leader:

— Modi led his Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party) to a sweeping victory in national elections last year, sending shockwaves through a political landscape long dominated by the Congress party. Its election manifesto pledged to maintain cultural values, end corruption, promand the Gandhi dynasty. The BJP is a right-of-centre group, with roots in Hindu nationalismote technology and improve the prospects for women.

— The 64-year-old leader is India's 15th prime minister and the first to be born in an independent India.

— His website and party literature portray him almost as an Indian version of Abraham Lincoln. Modi rose from humble beginnings helping in his family's tea stall to became a political organizer for BJP, chief minister of a major Indian state and then eventually prime minister.

— Modi's time as chief minister of Gujurat cast a shadow after more than 1,000 people, many of them Muslims, were killed in 2002 when rioting erupted after about 60 Hindus died on a burning train. A Human Rights Watch report said the state officials and local police were complicit in the deadly riots.

— Modi preaches the need for technology and underlines his words with adept use of social media. His Facebook page credits him with 29 million likes and his Twitter account says he has 11.7 million followers. By way of comparison, U.S. President Barack Obama has 42.9 million likes and 58 million followers.