Against the backdrop of a bitterly fought local election, India is witnessing the unusual spectacle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi locked in a bitter verbal duel with his predecessor and accusing the opposition of holding secret meetings with Pakistani officials to impact the vote.
Narendra Modi's crushing election win over the governing Congress party in May 2014, signalled a fresh opportunity for India to make major economic and social changes that the defeated Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance failed to achieve during its long rule. After his victory, Modi opted for a slimmer government than the previous administration, which he said would help speed up decision-making and slash India's notorious bureaucracy. The Hindu nationalist leader has also made efforts to kick-start fresh relations with China, Pakistan and the United States, which had denied him visa in 2005 on human rights grounds over anti-Muslim riots in his home state of Gujarat. Modi denies wrongdoing and was never charged over the violence that left 1,000 dead. Modi comes from a caste near the bottom of the Indian social hierarchy. He is single and is widely known as a workaholic intent on shaking India's economy out of its doldrums.