Narendra Modi (Reuters)
Narendra ModiReuters

Narendra Modi, the Gujarat Chief Minister and the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is in the limelight and have been grabbing the headlines of late.

Modi has been credited for the development that has taken place in Gujarat during his tenure as CM since 2001. He is the Gujarat's longest-serving CM.

The one mystery of Modi's profile is his marriage. The Times of India reported on 1 February that Modi was once married to one Jashodaben, now a 62-year-old retired schoolteacher in Rajosana village of Banaskantha district in the state. The marriage is said to have taken place when Jashodaben was 18. She is now leading a secluded life and is reportedly hoping that Modi will come back to her and accept her again. But, till now, Modi has been silent about his marital life.

Here is a timeline of Modi's rise in his political career.

1950: On 17 September, Narendra Damodardas Modi is born in the ancient city of Vadnagar in the present-day Gujarat in a middle-class Hindu family. As a child, he runs away from home and heads to north India, living with sadhus - or holy men - for months before returning to Gujarat in the late 1960s, to serve steaming cups of tea, alongside one of his brothers, at a stall in Ahmedabad.

1987: Modi joins the BJP as the seven-year-old party becomes more popular and taps into the growth of Hindu nationalism across India. The party wins a majority in Gujarat in 1995, and Modi rises quickly up the ranks.

2001: Modi gets his big break when Keshubhai Patel, the former chief minister of Gujarat, is forced to step down in the fallout from the January earthquake that killed around 20,000 people. He is selected as Patel's replacement and remained in power ever since, becoming Gujarat's longest-serving chief minister.

2002: On 27 February, riots break out after over 50 Hindu pilgrims die in a train fire in the town of Godhra. Between 1,000 to 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, are killed in the riots, and Modi, as chief minister, is accused by his critics of not doing enough to stem the riots and even quietly encouraging them - allegations he has strongly denied and which have never been proved. To this day, the riots haunt Modi's government. In 2012, Maya Kodnani, one of Modi's former ministers, is sentenced to 28 years in jail, alongside 30 others, for the violence.

2005: Modi is denied a visa to travel to the United States for alleged violation of religious freedom, causing an uproar in India. Modi describes the denial of a diplomatic visa and the revoking of a business visa as insulting and asks the government in New Delhi to take up the issue with the US officials.

2008: In October, Modi persuades Tata Motors to move its factory to build its ultra-low cost Nano car to Gujarat from West Bengal after protests from farmers over land compensation, a sign of his business-friendly approach to politics. Gujarat today is one of India's wealthiest states and Modi's supporters credit him for bringing uninterrupted power supplies, smooth roads and a flood of investment to the state.

2012: On 31 August, Modi addresses a number of topics during an online web cam chat which draws questions from around India and across the world. Viewed as a media-savvy politician, the 62-year-old is also an avid Twitter user with more than a million followers. On 22 October, British High Commissioner James Bevan sits down with Modi to discuss business and investment in a landmark meeting that ends the UK's 10-year diplomatic boycott imposed on him for failing to stop the Gujarat riots.
On 20 December, Modi wins a fourth successive term as the chief minister of Gujarat, with his BJP party winning 115 of the state legislative assembly's 182 seats against 61 for the Congress party.

2013: On 7 January, European Union ambassadors have lunch with Modi at the German ambassador's residence in New Delhi, shattering what remained of a decade-old informal boycott of the political leader. On 9 June, Modi is chosen to head the BJP's campaign for the general elections due by May 2014, a position that would eventually make him the party's candidate for Prime Minister.