The most powerful Indians in 2012: No. 21-30https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others-do-not-use/the-most-powerful-indians-in-2012-no-2130/

The most powerful Indians in 2012: No. 21-30

She and brother Rahul are the ones Congress president Sonia Gandhi turns to for advice.

21. Jayalalithaa,63

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

Rank ’11: 16

WHY

She has made a spectacular comeback by ousting the DMK from power. After she became Chief Minister,she has made clear her intentions to take on the Centre,joining the growing list of powerful opposition chief ministers.

POWER PUNCH

On her very first visit to Delhi after taking over as CM,she made it clear that she had specific targets. She directly attacked Home Minister P Chidambaram,questioning his election in 2009 and asking for his resignation. And back in Tamil Nadu,when her own long-time associate and ‘surrogate sister’ Sasikala showed signs of becoming too big for her boots,Jayalalithaa expelled her from the party and also her house.

WHAT NEXT

Her ambition of playing a larger role in national politics is no secret. Whenever the next Lok Sabha elections are held,she is likely to be an important player in deciding who the Prime Minister will be. And that is not lost on the national parties.

BY THE WAY

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Fourteen years ago,when she was raided in corruption cases,she vowed never to wear jewellery till she was cleared of all charges. This year,after storming back to power,she was spotted wearing diamond earrings.


22. Azim Premji,66

Chairman,Wipro Ltd

Rank ’11: 19

WHY

Guided his over $7 billion company and its information technology business through a top management rejig and lost very little time in setting it back on a path of revenue growth. As part of a group of eminent citizens,Azim Premji kept the government awake to sliding governance and decision-making.

POWER PUNCH

In October 2011,he told the government that it must seriously appreciate the fact that “the complete absence of decision-making in the government can set growth back”. Premji pledged to donate $2 billion to boost school education in India. The donation is considered the largest of its kind to date by any Indian billionaire.

WHAT NEXT

While maintaining steady traditional streams of revenue for its IT business,Premji is overseeing his company’s increasing footprint in cloud computing,analytics and tablet computer-based applications.

BY THE WAY

Frugal to the extreme,he is passionate about conservation. He hangs back after meetings to switch off the lights and air conditioners.


23. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,40

Congress campaigner

New on the list

WHY

Though her political activity is confined to managing the Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies,she plays a much bigger role in the party,albeit indirectly. She and brother Rahul are the ones Congress president Sonia Gandhi turns to for advice. Party veterans have already gone public,demanding she join active politics.

POWER PUNCH

She had a say in the selection of candidates for Assembly seats falling under her mother’s and brother’s constituencies. She even declared the candidate for Gauriganj before the party formally announced the name.

WHAT NEXT

She is keen to address party workers’ meetings across Uttar Pradesh. She has,however,left it to her brother to decide the role he wants her to play. Even if she doesn’t step out,her position in the Congress’s first family define her power and influence.

BY THE WAY

A recent post on her Facebook page says,“Don’t be afraid of enemies who hate you,be more afraid of friends who flatter you.”


24. Vinod Rai,63

Comptroller and Auditor-General

Rank ’11: 72

WHY

Because he has done to the office of CAG what TN Seshan did to the Election Commission two decades ago. Because from now on,the reports of the CAG would never be ignored. Because he patented the phrase ‘presumptive loss’.

POWER PUNCH

The scam in the 2G spectrum allocation,which he pointed out,has now been established by the Supreme Court.

WHAT NEXT

Rai still has some time to go before he retires. After that? Well,the field is wide open. Many powerful bureaucrats before him have chosen to become activists after retirement. It won’t be surprising to see Rai join the group.

BY THE WAY

An avid gardener,Rai keeps a layout of his garden on his office computer and loves to show it off.


25. Digvijaya Singh,64

Congress General Secretary

WHY

Has a penchant for courting controversies but retains the trust and confidence of both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The Congress party,after distancing itself from his remarks several times,has come around to accepting his view. Rahul relies on Singh’s political acumen to revive party fortunes in Uttar Pradesh.

POWER PUNCH

His no-holds-barred attack on Team Anna and Ramdev even had Congressmen squirming but the party eventually accepted his view.

WHAT NEXT

The results of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will have a bearing on his future role in the organisation. If the party does reasonably well,all credit is likely to go to Rahul. If it turns in a poor show,Digvijaya is likely to face flak.

BY THE WAY

A tech-savvy politician,he has taken to iPad and does most of his work on it.


26. Ahmed Patel,62

Sonia Gandhi’s Political Secretary

Rank ’11: 21

WHY

He remains a trusted lieutenant of Sonia Gandhi. Along with Rahul,he was in the four-member team to run party affairs when she went abroad for surgery. Being her eyes and ears,he wields considerable clout in the party.

POWER PUNCH

Played a key role in the last reshuffle of the Cabinet.

WHAT NEXT

With the party preparing for transition at the top,he has to ensure it’s smooth. A family loyalist,his own role post-transition is not yet clear. There are few in the party who can match his particular skills.

BY THE WAY

He is fond of ghazals. His favourite singers are Ghulam Ali and Talat Aziz.


27. Arvind Kejriwal,43

Social & political activist

New on the list

WHY

As the brain behind the Lokpal movement,he almost single-handedly controlled and directed an effective mass movement against corruption. He also played a major role in the manner in which Anna Hazare appealed to the urban youth. His outspoken views and constant pressure tactics made the government bend.

POWER PUNCH

He managed to keep the crowds coming to the Ramlila grounds in August 2011 for days despite the government’s predictions of waning public support. As a backroom strategist and using his background of government service,he emerged as the key negotiator and interface between Anna Hazare and the media.

WHAT NEXT

The coming months will show whether Kejriwal’s power was a result of the short-lived romanticism of urban middle-class youth or if he is a genuine crowd puller with staying power. After the setback in Mumbai in December 2011,his most challenging task will come in the UP Assembly elections which is certain to impact the course the anti-corruption campaign will take in the future.

BY THE WAY

He is a Vipassana enthusiast. After the Ramlila fast,he went for a ten-day retreat at Sohna.


28. Nitin Gadkari, 55

BJP president

Rank ’11: 30

WHY

Dispelling the impression that he can be pushed around by senior BJP leaders,he has emerged as a leader in his own right in the two-and-a-half years that he has been BJP president. Many a times he has changed meeting schedules to late in the night and though senior leaders don’t like it much,they have little choice but to attend.

POWER PUNCH

Despite opposition from sections in the party,he brought Sanjay Joshi and Uma Bharti back into the party fold and gave them important roles in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The decision to induct former BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha was also his,though the move bombed because of the taint Kushwaha carried.

WHAT NEXT

Because of the confidence the RSS leadership has in him,he is expected to get a second tenure as BJP president when his term runs out this year-end. Any gain in UP will go to his credit. In case of a decline in seats,he has enough detractors to rub that in.

BY THE WAY

A day before he went under the knife for bariatric surgery,he rode his scooter to the famous Pakodewala Tapari in Nagpur’s congested Sitabuldi area to have eight plates of pakoras.


29. Sunil Mittal,54

Chairman,Bharti Enterprises

Rank ’11: 35

WHY

To top its leadership position in India,Mittal has successfully expanded Bharti’s business reach across geographies,including a strong and growing presence in Africa and parts of the Indian subcontinent. It remains one of the few telecom operators in India that turn in a profit even as high debt and stagnant revenue per user squeeze most others. Mittal himself has been a vocal critic of the government’s policy in the telecom sector,especially on issues of spectrum pricing and 3G roaming deals.

POWER PUNCH

Bharti Airtel raised mobile tariffs by 20 per cent in July 2011. His rivals soon followed.

WHAT NEXT

With a subscription base of over 175 million,Airtel is now focused on improving revenue per user in an increasingly competitive market. It will also look to increase the pace of 3G rollout,with revenue growth from data far outpacing that from voice-and-call services. Bharti is a potential gainer from the Supreme Court order cancelling the 2G licences. Retail is another big opportunity.

BY THE WAY

A fitness enthusiast,he can be seen jogging in Lodhi Garden wearing a cap and shades.


30. Cyrus Mistry,43

Chairman designate,Tata Group

New on the list

WHY

He has been anointed successor to Ratan Tata and will take over the reins at India’s biggest blue-chip corporate entity. The low-profile Mistry,youngest son of construction baron Pallonji Mistry,is currently deputy chairman of Tata Sons. Mistry is set to head the Tata Group after its current chairman Ratan Tata retires in December 2012.

POWER PUNCH

Mistry was the dark horse who pipped many other contenders to the post when the Tata Group was looking for a successor to current chairman Ratan Tata. He is,however,highly rated in business circles and has shown considerable acumen,knowledge and efficiency in his family-run Shapoorji Pallonji Group,which holds around 18.5 per cent stake in Tata Sons.

WHAT NEXT

Mistry will work closely with Ratan Tata in the next few months and take over as chairman of Tata Sons in January 2013. He is also likely to be appointed to the board of major Tata companies and play a major role in planning future strategies.

BY THE WAY

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Despite his family owning a 200-acre stud farm near Pune and many race horses,he has no interest in racing and is never seen on

the race course.