A plethora of Prime Ministerial candidates is expected to be a dominant feature in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
For the first time in Independent India,there are leaders galore who are being projected,directly or indirectly,or throwing their hat in the ring for the country’s top executive job.
They range from 86-year old Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to 38-year-old Rahul Gandhi.
Those seeking the high office or nurturing dreams for occupying 7,Race Course Road are a mix of the young and the old and not so old as also those who are experienced and not so experienced.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,who underwent cardiac bypass surgery only on Saturday,has often skirted the issue while Leader of the Opposition L K Advani has been named the NDA’s PM candidate long back.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi,who heads the ruling UPA alliance,has made the choice known by saying that the 76-year-old Manmohan Singh would certainly unfurl the national tricolour on the Independence Day after the polls.
Former Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has created a flutter in the opposition BJP by giving ample signals that he was not averse to take a shot at the top post,by announcing that he has plans to contest the Lok Sabha polls,if health permitted.
Rahul Gandhi is being hailed as future leader and potential Prime Minister by the Congress with the AICC saying that it was upto the party General Secretary to decide the timing for getting the top job.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had brought unease in the saffron camp recently when two prominent industrialists hailed him as one having the leadership qualities to run the country. Modi took three days too say that Advani is the PM candidate for the BJP.
NCP spokesman D P Tripathi early this week declined to rule out candidature of party chief Sharad Pawar for Prime Ministership despite his party being part of the Congress-led UPA.
His reasoning is that if I K Gujral and Chandra Shekhar could become Prime Minister in spite of heading small parties,then what was wrong with the NCP leader.
BSP,buoyed by its victory in the Uttar Pradesh polls,is making no bones about projecting its leader Mayawati as the next Prime Ministerial candidate.
Mayawati considers herself a far bigger leader than Sonia Gandhi underlining that she has not inherited any political legacy like the Congress President.
AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa is also biding her time and playing her electoral cards cautiously. She is currently with the Left parties so also former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda of the JD-S on whom dame luck had smiled after the 1996 elections.
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad did not hide his ambition to become Prime Minister one day while his arch detractor JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is known to be playing it cool.
SP General Secretary Amar Singh has often spoken of his party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav having the qualities for the top job.
Experts say that projecting Prime Ministerial candidates by parties was a welcome move as it was an offshoot of the political plurality in the coalition era which the country is passing through.
The stance of the Left parties,which parted ways in 2008 with the UPA over the issue of the Indo-US nuclear deal,to form a political alternative to the UPA as also NDA has given hopes to a number of PM hopefuls who does not belong to either the Congress or BJP.
The Left parties were the key outside supporters to the UPA for nearly four years.