The most powerful Indians in 2013: No. 51-60

Indian Express: The most powerful Indians in 2013

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: April 23, 2013 6:23 pm

Kanishka Singh, 34

Political aide to Rahul Gandhi

Rank ’12: 31

Why

He is said to be the closest to Rahul Gandhi,who depends on him for advice.

Power Punch

While Digvijaya Singh was AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh,it was Kanishka Singh who was running the show behind the scenes,from distributing tickets to formulating poll strategy.

What Next

After Rahul Gandhi’s appointment as No. 2 in the party,Kanishka will remain a close aide to the Congress vice-president. But it is not clear whether he will be given any role akin to a political secretary.

By The Way

A management grad,he is also a stickler for correct English.

52

Ajit Singh,74

Minister of Civil Aviation

New on the list

Why

Even though his influence is limited to the western belt of Uttar Pradesh,he managed to bargain with the Congress and corner an important portfolio. He has held on to it despite delivering no political dividend to the Congress in the UP Assembly elections.

Power Punch

He did not give in to the striking pilots. He prevailed on airport developers to slash development fee. He got the nod for liberalisation of FDI in the aviation sector.

What Next

With Mulayam Singh poaching one of his MPs,he has to avoid sliding into political wilderness in the general elections. His party had lost three of the five Assembly seats in his own constituency.

By The Way

He recently finished reading Jeffrey Archer’s Best Kept Secrets.

53

Uddhav Thackeray,52

Chief,Shiv Sena

New on the list

Why

He succeeded in keeping Shiv Sena intact after the death of his charismatic father,Bal Thackeray.

Power Punch

He led the Sena to victory in BMC in the 2012 polls and put up a good show in the rest of Maharashtra in the civic elections.

What Next

The next Lok Sabha elections,his first solo show after the death of his father,will test his leadership qualities.

By The Way

A passionate photographer,he hired a copter a few years ago for an aerial photo shoot of the Pandharpur festival.

54

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, 69

Deputy Chairman,Planning Commission

New on the list

WHY

He has worked closely with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to steer the economy through rough patches. He is credited with suggesting numerous policy interventions at crucial times,including promotion of welfare schemes for inclusive growth.

POWER PUNCH

Despite the overall economic gloom,the National Development Council endorsed 8 per cent growth during the 12th Plan period at his behest. He began

an interface with the public to receive inputs for the Five Year Plan.

WHAT NEXT

The Ahluwalia-led Planning Commission is trying hard to ensure bigger financial allocation for aam aadmi programmes like the MGNREGA,Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Scheme.

BY THE WAY

When he graduated in 1963 from St Stephen’s College in Delhi,he wanted to become a journalist.

55

Raghuram Rajan, 50

Chief Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry

New on the list

WHY

He has joined the Finance Ministry as its new chief economic adviser at a crucial time when bold reforms and tough decisions are needed to bring the fisc under control and to revive growth momentum.

POWER PUNCH

The former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund,Rajan has not only served as an economic adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but also led a high-level committee on financial sector reforms in India. He is believed to have been hand-picked for the CEA’s job by the PM and also had backing of Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

WHAT NEXT

Rajan is a top contender for the job of RBI governor.

BY THE WAY

Born into a Tamil family and having lived abroad,he is now trying to become more fluent in Hindi.

56

Justice J S Verma, 80

Former Chief Justice of India

New on the list

Why

When he criticises the judiciary,everybody takes note. Legal experts often cite his criticism of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Vodafone case.

Power Punch

When the government was under pressure to amend laws for better protection of women after angry protests over the Delhi gang rape,it chose the no-nonsense Justice Verma to head a committee to suggest amendments to laws. Not only that,the government also requested him to suggest the other two members. The committee gave a report within 29 days,and it is now a centre of discussion.

What Next

Expect the government as well as the judiciary to take his opinion on pending Bills relating to the higher judiciary,which the government wants to pass at the earliest.

By The Way

He does not give his mobile phone number readily.

57

Akhilesh Yadav, 39

Chief Minister,Uttar Pradesh

Rank ‘12: 20

Why

He not only commands the largest political state in the country but,being young,also has the advantage of a long political career ahead. He slides down the list because he is still in his father’s shadow who pulls him up frequently.

Power Punch

Despite a huge publicity campaign by the Congress to project Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi as the leader of aspirational young voters across the country,Akhilesh trumped Rahul’s claim in the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh where the Congress was relegated to the margins in the Assembly elections last year.

What Next

While the next general elections remain a crucial test of his popularity in UP,his focus will be to fulfill the promises he made to the voters so that he retains his long-term potential.

By The Way

He is called Tipu at home.

58

Jayanthi Natarajan,58

Minister of Environment and Forests

NEW ON THE LIST

Why

As the minister who shows the green light to industrial projects,she has the power to say no to many of her Cabinet colleagues. She has taken a tough stand many times.

Power Punch

After she asserted that the proposed National Investment Board would impinge on her powers,the Cabinet Committee on Investment,as it was renamed,was not given the power to clear or stall any project.

What Next

With the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry seeking more speed and rationality in environmental decisions,she is likely to be under great pressure.

By The Way

A prolific reader,she used to be associated with a book club in Chennai.

59

Raman Singh, 60

Chief Minister,Chhattisgarh

Rank ’12: 33

Why

He has quietly claimed national space with his moderate,non-communal image. Surrounded by senior leaders,mostly seen plotting against him,

he has remained unruffled and grown in stature. Despite several controversies and graft charges against his government,he is still the Mr Clean

who delivers growth.

Power Punch

Became the first Chief Minister to enact the Food Security Act and secured a point over the UPA on this.

What Next

The Bastar tribals are disillusioned,and the Congress is trying to cash in on the sentiment in the Assembly polls this year. A third term will put him among the top national-level BJP leaders.

By the way

He takes photographs and makes videos during his ground visits and circulates them among his officers.

60

Goolam E Vahanvati, 63

Attorney General for India

Rank ’12: 36

WHY

When the government was reshuffling its team of law officers last year,there was one certainty—Vahanvati would get one more term. The government has depended on him in important cases like the Presidential reference on 2G and allocation of coal blocks.

Power Punch

He defended India’s human rights record in Geneva. Despite a high-voltage campaign by some human rights organisations demanding a downgrade for India,he managed to convince the Human Rights Council to retain India’s status.

What Next

He will have to defend the UPA government’s decision to allow FDI in retail in the Supreme Court and also argue for the government in the PIL seeking a change in the law on juveniles.

By The Way

He has a huge collection of highlighters,post-its,markers,pencils and pens from all over the world.

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