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Modi ranked world’s ninth most powerful person

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Washington : India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ranked ninth for the first time in Forbes’ seventh annual list of “The World’s Most Powerful People”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the top spot out of 73, for the third year in a row, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (No.2) moving up three spots from last year.

“A barnstorming tour of Silicon Valley reinforced his nation’s massive importance in tech,” it said.

“But governing 1.2 billion people requires more than shaking hands: Now Modi must pass his party’s reform agenda and keep fractious opposition under control”.

US President Barack Obama (No.3) dropped one spot, making it the first time that a sitting American president has not made it to the top two spots.

The only other Indian figuring in the list was Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, who is ranked 36.

Ambani, Forbes noted, has retained his position as India’s richest person for close to a decade despite shares of his oil and gas giant Reliance Industries taking a hit due to lower oil prices.

Of Modi, Forbes said: “India’s populist PM presided over 7.4 percent GDP growth in his first year in office, and raised his profile as a global leader during official visits with Barack Obama and (Chinese President) Xi Jinping.”

Pope Francis (No.4) retained his place this year, ahead of China’s Xi Jinping (No.5), who fell two spots.

“The $62.2 billion (revenues) firm is preparing for the launch of 4G services by its telecom arm Reliance Jio for which it has teamed up with once-estranged younger sibling Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications,” it noted.

Rounding out the top 10 are Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates (No.6), US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen (No.7), British Prime Minister David Cameron (No.8), and Alphabet CEO Larry Page (No.10).

Page assumed the CEO role at Alphabet this year and, as a result, Google co-founder Sergey Brin (No.30) dropped 21 places from last year.

Forbes said several factors were taken into account to select the 73 people that matter from the 7.3 billion people on the planet: the amount of money they control, the number of people they impact, their total spheres of influence, and how actively they wield their power.

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)