Gopinath Munde shakes hands with India's President Pranab Mukherjee (L) after he took his oath as a cabinet minister at the presidential palace in New Delhi May 26, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
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India's minister for rural development died on Tuesday after a road collision in New Delhi, depriving Prime Minister Narendra Modi of a key ally just eight days after coming to office with a mandate to revitalize a stalled economy.Gopinath Munde, 64, was on his way to the airport for a victory rally in his home state of Maharashtra, on India's west coast, when his sedan was hit by a car.Modi had entrusted to Munde the crucial task of spearheading his government's battle on poverty in the countryside, home to more than half of India's population of 1.2 billion, but which contributes just 14 percent of gross domestic product in Asia's third-largest economy.More than 230,000 people were killed on Indian roads in 2010, or a rate of almost 19 deaths per 100,000 people.From 1995 to 1999, Munde was deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, the state that is home to Mumbai, the financial capital. He was twice elected to India's lower house of parliament, in 2009 and again last month in the landslide general election victory of the BJP.
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