RANK 1: NARENDRA MODI, 63
Chief Minister, Gujarat
Rank (2013): 2
Because as the BJP prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he is the face of a high-voltage national campaign that has galvanised the party with its promise to deliver its best win ever. Going for broke (Mission 272+), he has forced others to define themselves on his terms. By scripting a narrative of development and decisive leadership and counting on an electorate that’s young and impatient, he has been able to deflect attention from questions on his role during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Modi’s publicity managers have swamped social media sites and the Internet, launching sites, Twitter handles and Facebook pages. To reach out to a larger electorate, the pitch has changed from the Vibrant Gujarat context of a CEO-chief minister. From projecting him as an OBC, the emphasis is now on his beginnings as a chaiwallah — a bid to counter the dynastic roots of his biggest challenger, Rahul Gandhi.
As Prime Minister, all eyes will be on how Modi in Delhi is different from Modi in Ahmedabad, on who all form his inner circle. Even if the numbers elude him, he would have irreversibly changed power equations in the BJP.
BY THE WAY
He loves gizmos and photography. He was one of the first in his party to have started using a digital camera.
RANK 2: RAHUL GANDHI, 43
Congress vice president
Rank (2013): 1
A year after he was made the grand old party’s vice president, Rahul is now in command and calls the shots in the party to a large extent. The de facto prime ministerial candidate of the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections, the Amethi MP has stepped out of mother Sonia Gandhi’s shadows in quick time to take organisational activities in his grip. From selecting broad campaign themes to candidate-selection and manifesto-making, he is playing a crucial role.
His tearing of the proposed ordinance on convicted MPs and MLAs underlined his pre-eminence and clout in the ruling dispensation. The government meekly surrendered and rolled back its decision to bring an ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers from disqualification.
The outcome of the Lok Sabha elections, whichever way it goes, will not affect his pre-eminent position in the party, but a severe setback at the hustings could impact his plans to bring about major changes in the organisation which he personally believes is inevitable. His operation shake-up, introducing elections at all levels and opening up the system, could face resistance from the old guard.
BY THE WAY
He has two dogs — both Jack Russels — named Piddi and Tashe.
RANK 3: SONIA GANDHI, 67
Congress president and UPA chairperson
Rank (2013): 3
She still has the last word in the Congress. Although she has passed on the …continued »