RANK 11: RAJNATH SINGH, 62
Rank (2013): 18
As president of the principal Opposition party which is projecting itself as the alternative to incumbent Congress, Rajnath Singh presides over the organisational preparations of the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections.
Overcoming challenges within the BJP, he settled the leadership issue for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and projected Narendra Modi as his party’s prime ministerial candidate. Backing Modi, he did not stop the JD(U), an alliance partner for 17 years, from walking away.
While the party has set itself on a mission for a majority on its own, he will have to play a crucial role in stitching up a post-election coalition and returning the BJP to power after 10 years in Opposition.
BY THE WAY
An M.Sc in physics, he taught the subject at K B Post-Graduate College, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.
RANK 12: SHARAD PAWAR, 73
NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister
Rank (2013): 20
The veteran politician punches more weight than the numerical strength of his NCP in Lok Sabha. His friendship with leaders across the political divide keeps the Maharashtra leader relevant in national politics.
As the Congress tried to make sense of the BJP’s lead in election preparedness, Pawar came out in the open to publicly declare that the regional parties will have a say in the next government formation. Has blown hot and cold against Narendra Modi.
Having decided not to contest Lok Sabha elections, Pawar will have time and energy on his side to leverage in the eventuality of a fractured mandate in the Lok Sabha elections. Regional players will play a crucial role.
BY TH WAY
Apart from Pranab Mukherjee, Pawar has been the other UPA minister to be received as state guest in Narendra Modi-ruled Gujarat.
RANK 13: SUSHMA SWARAJ, 62
Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha
Rank (2013): 6
As the BJP seeks to ride on anti-Congress sentiments, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha has a crucial role in pinning down the UPA government on a host of issues with her oratory, inside and outside the House.
She backed the Food Security Bill and passage of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill after differences within the UPA ranks held back these legislation for years.
Her oratory will be on full volume during the Lok Sabha elections. If Modi comes to power, how she fits in in the new regime will be something to watch for.
BY THE WAY
As leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, she did not sit on the seat allotted to her out of respect for her predecessor, LK Advani.
RANK 14: ARUN JAITLEY, 61
Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha
Rank (2013): 7
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