Gingrich, who had a number of video tele-conference interviews with BJP's prime ministerial candidate, said Modi must find a way to connect ties between the Hindus and Muslims.

The former speaker of the House of Representatives said Modi, who portrays himself as a champion of economic development and good governance, should project himself as a moderniser, not a divider.

"Hindu politics should be on backburner if Modi wants a global appeal," Gingrich told a news agency on the sidelines of the 12th Eurasian Media Conference in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

"He wants to be the man in charge, he will be judged how he handles two of India's biggest communities. He will be judged how he handles Sikhs and Christians," Gingrich said.

"If the community blending happens, then - probably - he will get the clean chit he seeks. Till then, he will be on trial," he added.

The veteran politician, who was once a presidential aspirant and is now a permanent panelist on the revamped CNN show Crossfire, said Indian voters - estimated at 815 million - will remember the 2002 riots in Gujarat when they go to vote.

"The BJP cannot tell Indians to forget 2002 because the Congress was - in many ways - responsible for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that swept India. Modi must work hard to douse the anger of the Muslims with an element of hope. He must make them believe him, he must address their fears of Modi's Hindu agenda," said Gingrich.

Hindus make up 80 percent of India's population and Muslims about 15 percent.

"He should not be seen as a great divider, he should be seen as a great moderniser," said Gingrich

"He avoided sectarian rhetoric. As long as he maintains that after assuming the high chair, he will be loved. Else, the stains will stay even if he occupies the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)," Gingrich added.


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