The Most Powerful Indians in 2017, 1 to 50: Narendra Modi tops, Yogi Adityanath enters list

The top three of 2016-17 remain the same as in 2015-16 — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat — but with a difference.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: March 29, 2017 9:13:45 pm

Take a look at The Indian Express power list of 2016-17 not just to see who are the most powerful 100 in this country of a billion plus. Look at it, also, to get a sense of how, over the past year, power has changed hands — and how power itself has changed.

To take the second change first, which is also the context in which the first — the movement of the powerful — is to be tracked: More than any other in recent times, the past year has framed and sharpened an absence in India’s liberal democratic imagination.

Liberal democracy in India has always seemed ill-trained in the art of separation that produces a check and balance on power, and is also a way of fragmenting it. Democracy in India doesn’t ask itself the question, at least not often enough, and not with enough sophistication: What are the bases of different institutions? What are the different kinds of power?

It is in this space of unasked questions that the steep climb and precipitous fall of individuals in the IE power list tells a story, of course.

Large meanings can also be prised from the small shifts.

The top three of 2016-17 remain the same as in 2015-16 — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat — but with a difference. While Modi remains numero uno, Shah trades places with Bhagwat. The moving up of Shah, the stepping down of Bhagwat, if only by a rung each, speaks of an unfolding realignment within the Sangh Parivar — the dramatic electoral successes of the Modi-Shah election machine are helping them pull ahead of not just their opponents and rivals but also their friends.

The year 2015-2016 was when the political Opposition struck back at the BJP dominance established by its 282-seat triumph in 2014 — first Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP routed the BJP in Delhi, then the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Mahagathbandhan trounced it in Bihar.

It was also the year when the BJP’s political project seemed challenged by events and stories outside the political arena that snowballed, acquired power, became writ large — the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri over rumours of beef in September 2015, the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula at the Hyderabad University campus in January 2016. This was followed by the spreading protests against the arrest of students in JNU on charges of sedition, which also stoked a wide and vibrant debate on the meaning of nationalism.

Yet, in 2017, that agitation and those debates seem frayed and faded already. Their dramatis personae, like the fiery JNU student leaders, are no longer prominent on the stage. They have been relegated by the inevitable return to business-as-usual, yes, but also by the sound and spectacle of the BJP’s electoral victories, especially and most recently in Uttar Pradesh.

Unsurprising, then, that a host of Opposition leaders move down the power list: Arvind Kejriwal slips from No. 8 to 33, Mayawati who was at 30 last year is now at 50, and Lalu Prasad is down from 26 to 42.

The Gandhis, Sonia and Rahul, may not show as great a fall — from 5 to 9 and from 9 to 10, respectively. But there is a settled stolid dullness to their ranking, especially when you contrast it with the blistering trajectory of Yogi Adityanath, a new entrant at No. 8, or Himanta Biswa Sarma who left the Congress to become powerful in the BJP, and who is also a new entry in the list, at 37.

Nitish Kumar, who had seemed for a while last year to be the emerging rallying point for anti-BJP forces, has receded only from 12 to 13, but in his case, the rungs he hasn’t climbed are more telling.

All those who are on the list are there because of the individuals that they are and because of the institutions and offices that they represent. But the rise in the list of Chief Justice Khehar, from 41 to 4, and the entry of Dipak Misra at 15 and Justice Lodha at 78, owes more to their institution — the judiciary — at a time when other checks and balances on concentrated executive power are waning. How these individuals act on their institutions, steer their course, will determine their ranking in next year’s list.

And what about the non-political powerful of 2016-17? Except for the feisty Kangana Ranaut gatecrashing this list of 90 men and 10 women,
as she has done Bollywood, in the most powerful and empowering way possible, well, what about them?

Here is the list:

Also Read | The Most Powerful Indians in 2017, 51 to 100: Aamir Khan moves up to 61, Chidambaram at 71

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1. Narendra Damodardas Modi, 66
Prime Minister of India
(Rank 2016: 1)

Why
Because nearly three years into his term, he remains the unchallenged Number 1. Because under him, the BJP looks unstoppable, forcing the Opposition to continually play catch-up. Every key move the Modi government makes — from surgical strikes to demonetisation — is done in his name. Under him, the Prime Minister’s Office wields almost absolute power, inviting awe and criticism in equal measure. His relentless campaigning fuelled the party’s sweep in Uttar Pradesh, setting the stage for 2019. His constant communication underlines the power of his politics.

Power Punch
Demonetisation. Its economics may have been suspect but its politics was pure gold. He proved his critics wrong and projected the hugely disruptive note ban as a transformational reform that people must support for the greater good. And they did.

What Next
Halfway into his term, he’s looking beyond 2019. Economy and employment, rising expectations of the young remain his key challenges at home that will also define his place in the world.

By the way
He loves photography, shoots a lot and always directs photographers even as he poses for them.

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2. Amit Shah, 52
BJP President
(Rank 2016: 3)

Why
He pushes the RSS chief down one rank because he has established himself as the BJP’s trump card. Despite the criticism over his style of functioning, Shah has proved he is the most effective strategist, whether in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra or Manipur. He not only led the party to historic victories in UP and Uttarakhand by stitching together a new social coalition, but also choreographed the BJP takeover of Goa and Manipur.

Power Punch
Shah stuck to his handpicked candidates for Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, including some who joined the party on the eve of the release of the list.

What next
Elections in Gujarat later this year. He realises the party’s performance here is tied to his prestige as well as that of the PM.

By the way
He has been on a strict weight-loss programme and has already lost over 15 kg.

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3. Mohan Bhagwat, 66
RSS sarsanghchalak
(Rank 2016: 2)

Why
Without rocking any boats, like in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee years, he has ensured that the RSS and the BJP government remain in step and in sync. Despite the rebellion in the Goa unit and some swayamsevaks carping over tickets in UP and Uttarakhand, Bhagwat’s Sangh has emerged as the perfect foil to the Modi government.

Power Punch
His public disagreements are keenly heard. For instance, his disapproval of the draft education policy prompted the Centre to review it.

What Next
To push the RSS agenda on triple talaq and empowerment of Dalits and other backward classes, especially in southern states.

By the way
Finds time to watch movies with close friends from Nagpur.

 

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4. J S Khehar, 64
Chief Justice of India
(Rank 2016: 41)

Why
With the judiciary and the executive locked in a struggle over delay in appointments to the higher judiciary and a new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), the CJI, who heads the collegium that clear the names of judges for high courts and the apex court, plays a key role. Besides, he will hear all important PILs in the Supreme Court.

Power Punch
The SC collegium under him has stood its ground, virtually rejecting every contentious clause that the Modi government wanted in the new MoP.

What Next
He is expected to head the Constitution bench that will decide the validity of Aadhaar and the contours of the right to privacy.

By the way
He often refers to his wife as ‘Sher Khan’ and ‘Tiger’.

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5. Ajit Doval, 72
National Security Advisor
(Rank 2016: 18)

Why
Because he is the most important bureaucrat in the Modi government. He has the Prime Minister’s ear on everything, from foreign policy and the challenges of terror to negotiations with the Naga rebels.

Power Punch
Following the public announcement of the surgical strikes in PoK last November, he is said to have controlled the flow of information and played a key role in shaping the narrative.

What Next
To quickly gauge the Trump administration and work on common areas so that New Delhi is able to tap into the new Washington.

By the way
Still responds to every single soldierly salutation in his office with a loud and brisk “vishraam, araam se”.

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6. Arun Jaitley, 64
Union Finance Minister
(Rank 2016: 4)

Why
The effective No 2 in the Modi cabinet, Jaitley has the task of steering the economy towards higher growth amid a slowdown resulting from demonetisation. With Manohar Parrikar heading to Goa, Jaitley holds additional charge of the crucial defence ministry.

Power Punch
After a series of hectic negotiations with states and political parties, Jaitley was able to get the Constitutional amendment related to GST passed by Parliament. A crucial indirect tax reform, consensus on which once seemed impossible, GST is likely to be implemented from
July 1.

What Next
Improving the country’s tax base and ensuring that people stay the course on digital transactions.

By the way
He is on very friendly terms with Captain Amarinder Singh, the man who defeated him in the bitterly fought Amritsar Lok Sabha contest.

7. Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani, 59
Chairman, Reliance Industries
(Rank 2016: 5)

Why
Continues to remain the richest Indian with a net worth of Rs 1,75,400 crore (US $26 billion), according to the Hurun Global Rich List. He is now focusing on his telecom venture, Reliance Jio, which is making aggressive plans in the segment, giving established players such as Airtel a run for their money. The group’s sprawling media ownership is now a role model for other corporates.

Power Punch
Jio has secured over 10 crore customers in less than six months.

What Next
With Jio set to charge customers from April, his next move in the intensely competitive telecom sector will be keenly watched.

By the way
A nature buff, Ambani loves to visit wildlife hotspots such as Kruger National Park in South Africa.

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8. Yogi Adityanath, 44
Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh
(Rank 2016: New entry)

Why
For being chief minister of India’s most populous state, where the BJP and its allies have come to power with a thumping mandate, winning 325 of 403 seats in the assembly elections. A key Hindutva face of the BJP, he surprised nearly everyone by becoming the party’s choice to lead the state government.

Power Punch
When he pipped about half-a-dozen aspirants to the post of CM. Long seen as the fringe in the state BJP, he now represents the ‘mainstream’.

What Next
He faces the daunting task of balancing the demands of his office with those of his restive and aggressive supporters. How he does that will decide how effectively the BJP reaps its electoral harvest in UP. The crackdown on meat and the anti-Romeo squads have dominated headlines but the Yogi story is yet to unfold.

By the way
He is fond of watches. Wears a Rado on his left wrist.

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9. Sonia Gandhi, 70
Congress president
(Rank 2016: 5)

Why
Despite her conscious decision to stay away from the limelight and make way for son Rahul, Sonia Gandhi remains the paramount leader of the Congress. The longest-serving president of the Grand Old Party, she is still the last word and the final arbiter in the party. Though her ill health has forced her to curtail her public appearances, she remains accessible to all leaders.

Power Punch
Her strategic absence from the Congress Working Committee meeting, in which her loyalist AK Antony broached the topic of Rahul’s elevation, was a message loud and clear for Rahul baiters to fall in line and reconcile with the new normal.

What Next
With the party battered at the polls, she could step down as president but will remain the figurehead.

By the way
She opens all official communication from Congress office bearers and administrative staff all by herself. Also, she personally puts her replies into envelopes and seals them herself.

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10. Rahul Gandhi, 46
Congress vice-president
(Rank 2016: 9)

Why
With mother Sonia Gandhi taking a back seat, Rahul is now in effective control of the Grand Old Party. With the BJP unlikely to have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress remains the fulcrum of any Opposition unity in Parliament.

Power Punch
Even though under him the party has seen a string of electoral reverses, he doesn’t face any major challenge within the party.

What Next
His long-awaited elevation as Congress president could happen this year.

By the way
Rahul dabbles in a number of sports. He is a licensed scuba diving instructor, a black belt in Aikido and a squash player. He is currently reading the English translation of the Upanishads.

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11. Rajnath Singh, 65
Union Home Minister
(Rank 2016: 7)

Why
One of the heavyweights of the NDA government, Singh has also been the BJP national president. He has enjoyed key posts in the government, in part because he has the complete backing of the RSS. In UP, Singh conducted 102 election rallies, the maximum by a central minister.

Power Punch
Singh was the soft face of the government during the 2016 Kashmir unrest and has been instrumental in pushing back Left Wing Extremism to an all-time low.

What Next
With a change of guard in the United States, the next big challenge for the home minister is the upcoming Indo-US homeland security dialogue. Back home, he will have to build a new narrative in Kashmir, along with handling infiltration from across the border.

By the way
Singh is not part of any family WhatsApp group and does not keep a mobile with him.

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12. Piyush Goyal, 52
MoS, Independent for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines
(Rank 2016: 46)

Why
His ministry has ensured that there is no scarcity of coal. As a result, while transmission and distribution issues persist, power generation has been sorted out — the country’s ‘power surplus’. In spite of his responsibilities as a senior minister, Goyal was appointed to the two-member ministerial group that was to work out a strategy to promote cashless transactions during the demonetisation period.

Power Punch
Has been tasked with executing PM’s targets, such as “power for all” and annual renewable energy generation of 175 GW by 2022. His ministry has already electrified 70 per cent of the 18,452 villages that the PM wants power to reach by May 2018. He is expected to meet this deadline comfortably.

What Next
Has to successfully supervise non-coal auctions being conducted by the states, and sort out transmission and distribution issues with their help. Will also have to reach target of renewable power generation.

By the way
He hasn’t slept for more than five hours a day since he took charge. Is spiritual and meditates.

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13. Nitish Kumar, 66
Chief Minister, Bihar
(Rank 2016: 12)

Why
For being the face of the Opposition and the nucleus of the anti-BJP camp. He is likely to play a key role in putting up a consensus candidate from the non-BJP camp for the post of President of India.

Power Punch
He was the only Opposition leader to back demonetisation, though with a caveat: ‘a good idea, but poorly implemented’.

What Next
In his third term as chief minister, Nitish is definitely looking national with an eye on the 2019 parliamentary elections.

By the way
Has a fascination for the digit ‘7’. Despite moving to the CM’s official 1, Anne Marg residence, he retained his previous address at 7, Circular Road, Patna.

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14. Mamata Banerjee, 62
Chief Minister, West Bengal
(Rank 2016: 15)

Why
In her second term as chief minister, she remains the most resolute voice critical of PM Modi and the BJP in a country where the opposition space is increasingly shrinking. Banerjee has been most vocal on the debate regarding federalism, repeatedly accusing the BJP-led Centre of attempting to weaken the federal structure and centralise power.

Power Punch
After her landslide victory in 2011, which ended the 34-year-old Left Rule in Bengal, Banerjee pulled off an even bigger victory in the 2016 Assembly polls.

What Next
Her party will have to contend with the Narada investigations, in addition to the ongoing investigations into chit funds.

By the way
She walks 5-6 km on her treadmill every morning. She has repeatedly walked up to 10 kms at a stretch, leaving those behind her puffing away at a distance.

 

15. Dipak Misra, 63
Supreme Court Judge
(Rank 2016: New Entry)

Why
He is set to take over as the Chief Justice of India in August this year and will have a tenure of over a year. With tension between the Centre and Opposition-ruled states, as well as the ruling BJP and Opposition parties, showing no signs of abating, the Supreme Court headed by him could be called upon more frequently to be the final arbiter in Constitutional matters. He will also head the collegium that will have the opportunity to appoint a large number of Supreme Court and high court judges.

Power Punch
To instill “committed patriotism and nationalism”, he made it mandatory for all cinema halls in India to play the national anthem before a movie begins, with those present in the hall obliged to stand up to show respect.

What Next
The Supreme Court bench headed by him is seized of some very important cases, which include reforms in the BCCI, plea seeking a refund for Sahara investors, the Delhi December 16 gangrape-cum-murder, entry of women into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple and the Cauvery water-sharing dispute.

By the way
He can quote extempore from Shakespeare’s works.

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16. Sushma Swaraj, 65
External Affairs minister
(Rank 2016: 10)

Why
Despite her ill-health, she has retained her position as one of the topmost Cabinet ministers in the Modi government. Though she has not travelled over the last year, barring a few occasions, her inputs are considered key to Modi’s foreign policy.

Power Punch
Although recovering from a kidney transplant, she has been alert and active on Twitter. Responds to requests from Indians in distress overseas.

What Next
Her comeback to active official duty in the coming months.

By the way
She is an ardent Krishna devotee, whose images can be seen all over her house.

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17. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, 58
Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh
(Rank 2016: 23)

Why
Has spent more time in the chief minister’s office than any politician in the history of the state, which was once a Congress stronghold. The BJP has won two assembly elections projecting him as the CM. Has even busted the myth that the CM on whose watch the Simhastha Kumbh is held always loses the seat.

Power Punch
Having ridden the Vyapam scam, there appears to be no challenger to the chief minister as of now.

What Next
With the assembly elections more than a year away in Madhya Pradesh, there are rumours about his elevation to Delhi as a Union minister.

By the way
Whenever possible, Chouhan loves to take a dip in the Narmada.

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18. Devendra Gangadhar Fadnavis, 46
Chief Minister, Maharashtra
(Rank 2016: 25)

Why
From policy decisions in Maharashtra to drawing up the BJP’s political strategy, Fadnavis remains the go-to man. Has mastered the art of dealing with ally Shiv Sena, which often plays the role of an aggressive Opposition, as well as rival parties, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

Power Punch
Under him, the BJP won 10 municipal corporation elections, 25 zila parishad and 284 panchayat seats.

What Next
To tackle the Shiv Sena, which is more aggressive after the BJP’s success in the civic polls. His aim to carry out socio-economic reforms in the state will also be tested.

By the way
He likes gola bhat and phodnichi poli.

19. Nitin Gadkari, 59
Union Minister, Road Transport and Highways
(Rank 2016: 20)

Why
He continues to be one of the top performers in the council of ministers with the reputation of being a doer. Modi is said to openly praise him in ministerial and secretary-level meetings. Some in the party say Modi uses Gadkari’s proximity to the RSS leadership to bring Nagpur on board on certain issues. Given the government’s infrastructure push, he is in charge of a key ministry.

Power Punch
With the BJP eight short of the magic figure of 21 seats in the 40-member Goa Assembly, it was Gadkari who worked the phones overtime and got MLAs to side with the party, completely outsmarting the Congress.

What Next
After the success in Goa, his stock in the party has gone up.

By the way
Enjoys spicy food and his favourite dish is Pataudi, a popular preparation from Nagpur.

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20. Amarinder Singh, 75
Chief Minister, Punjab
(New entry)

Why
A scion of the Patiala royal family, Amarinder led the Congress to its only decisive victory in the Assembly elections held this year. Is still one of the mass leaders in the Congress even as his party loses ground across the country.

Power Punch
Got his way in the party after threatening to leave and form his own outfit. It led to the ousting of Partap Singh Bajwa, a Rahul appointee, from the PCC chief post.

What Next
From tackling the drug menace to the farm crisis, the new chief minister has several challenges in his second stint at the helm in the border state.

By the way:
Apart from being an author of several books on military history, Amarinder loves gardening.

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21. Venkaiah Naidu, 67
Union Minister, I&B, Urban Development
(Rank 2016: 37)

Why
Among the most vocal in Narendra Modi’s cabinet, Naidu handles the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Urban Development, which is overseeing the PM’s ambitious Smart Cities project. Naidu continues to have the faith of the party and the Prime Minister, whom he promotes at every opportunity, defining Modi as ‘Making Of Developed India’.

Power Punch
After the BJP’s resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh, Naidu was chosen as the observer from Delhi in the panel to elect the chief minister. As rumours abound that Yogi Adityanath threatened to walk out with a large number of MLAs if not elected the CM, Naidu is one of the few who knows what really happened.

What Next
With Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar back in Goa and the Presidential election coming up, Naidu may be in the fray for a promotion, one way or the other.

By the way
Throughout his career, Naidu has had narrow escapes in nine aircraft mishaps, involving helicopters and aircrafts.

22. Krishna Gopal, 61
Joint Secretary (Sahsarkaryavah), RSS
(Rank 2016: 69)

Why
As the RSS in-charge of the BJP, he is the official liason between the two. The UP native also helped galvanise swayamsevaks for the recent assembly elections. As mentor of Samkalp, a Delhi-based RSS coaching institute for the civil services exam, he is the driving force behind the Sangh’s efforts to get those aligned to its ideology into the bureaucracy.

Power Punch
Is privy to most major political decisions at the Centre.

What Next
Has been looking to have more hold over the politics of UP but faces a challenge from fellow sahsarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale, who is senior to him and whose base is in Lucknow these days. Was also kept in the dark on the decision to appoint Yogi Adityanath as UP CM.

By the way
Prefers gur (jaggery) as dessert.

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23. Vasundhara Raje, 64
Chief Minister, Rajasthan
(Rank 2016: 22)

Why
Continues to remain the BJP’s most powerful and popular face in Rajasthan. With the Lalit Modi controversy and the mining scam case firmly behind her, Raje has managed to hold her ground in the state despite frequent demands for quota by the Gurjars and a fractious relationship with the RSS and its affiliates.

Power Punch
Raje has managed to quell the rebellion within the party — five-time BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari had publicly urged the central leadership to remove her — and emerge on top.

What Next
With polls to the state Assembly due next year, all eyes will be on whether she manages to repeat her 2013 feat in the face of anti-incumbency.

By the way
Raje has been presenting the state budget on March 8 for a couple of years now. Besides being International Women’s Day, it is also her birthday.

24. Nripendra Misra, 72
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister
(Rank 2016: 39)

Why
Eyebrows were raised in May 2014 when Modi promulgated an ordinance to appoint the retired UP cadre IAS officer as his principal secretary. However, Misra has proved his worth and remains one of the two most powerful people in the current administration. In all policy matters and cabinet decisions, Misra’s inputs play a key role, be it the Jan Dhan scheme, subsidies or the Ujjawala scheme.

Power Punch
The PM’s pet project on rural housing saw Misra oversee the rural development ministry successfully complete the target of 33 lakh houses for this financial year.

What Next
With polls done, he will push for deliveries on key reforms, including disinvestment.

By the way
Misra likes to take a walk at 5.30 am and listen to his favourite singer, Geeta Dutt, before sleeping.

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25. Subramanian Swamy, 77
BJP leader
(Rank 2016: 90)

Why
There is no telling who the pugnacious BJP leader will choose as the target of his swipes — the Gandhi family, P Chidambaram, Raghuram Rajan, or even party colleague Arun Jaitley. After his nomination to the Rajya Sabha, Swamy served a notice for a discussion in the House on the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

Power Punch
His Twitter tirade against Jaitley left the party squirming, but he came out unscathed.

What Next
With BJP in power in UP, he is actively pursuing the Ram temple matter in the Supreme Court.

By the way
His wife Roxna has just written a biography of her husband, which every publisher approached has been too timid to publish. As a result, she has decided to publish it herself.

26. P K Mishra, 67
Additional Principal Secretary to PM
(Rank 2016:32)

Why
If Nripendra Misra is Modi’s policy person, PK Mishra, nicknamed ‘PK’, is the man for governance. Unlike the flamboyant Misra, PK is a behind-the-scenes operator. Considered more powerful than even Union ministers, he was principal secretary to Modi in Gujarat till 2004. Known to come down hard on officers who do not meet the PM’s expectations.

Power Punch
Be it the powerful cabinet committee on appointments or appointing heads to PSUs, Mishra has the last word.

What Next
Mishra’s understanding of grassroots conditions and the agriculture sector are assets at a time when the Modi government is reaching out to farmers and the poorer sections.

By the way
Mishra is often seen in half-sleeved shirts, even in high-profile meetings.

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27. Ravi Shankar Prasad, 63
Union minister, Law and Justice
(New entry)

Why
Because he made a comeback into the top echelons of the government in the July 2016 reshuffle, getting back the prestigious Law and Justice portfolio. He is also the BJP’s go-to man for hard-selling the government’s or the party’s point of view.

Power Punch
Getting the Supreme Court collegium to agree to yield to most of the contentious clauses in the draft memorandum of procedure (MoP), over which the previous CJI, TS Thakur, and the government had disagreed.

What Next
Working with the higher judiciary to fill the large number of vacancies in the high courts.

By the way
Prasad likes to return home from wherever he is travelling in India, and clears pending files late in the night.

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28. Prakash Javadekar, 66
Human Resource Development minister
(New entry)

Why
Under him, the HRD Ministry has managed to keep away from controversies. In the last six months, he has resolved all differences between his ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office and expedited decisions regarding the IIM Bill. That apart, Javadekar has worked on clearing the backlog of appointments and pushed UGC to approve regulations on setting up world-class institutions,
which is the Prime Minister’s pet education project.

Power Punch
Among the BJP’s biggest gains in the recently concluded Assembly elections was in Manipur, where Javadekar was the party in-charge.

What Next
As HRD Minister, Javadekar’s next big assignment is to revamp the University Grants Commission.

By the way
Loves listening to music. Often plays songs on his tablet while working.

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29. S Jaishankar, 62
Foreign Secretary
(Rank 2016: 33)

Why
Handled MEA in the absence of the minister; is the brains trust for foreign affairs in PMO.

Power Punch
Reached out to key members of the Trump administration.

What Next
Cracking the ice with Pakistan and warming up to Washington.

By the way
Met Ajit Doval only once before he became foreign secretary.

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30. Dharmendra Pradhan, 47
Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas
(New entry)

Why
Seen as an alternative to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. His ministry handed out LPG connections in UP. He also shares credit for the BJP’s sweep in state assembly elections. The prime minister has praised him for pushing his development agenda.

Power Punch
Despite BJD’s grip over Odisha, Pradhan led state BJP to a victory in February’s zila parishad polls.

What Next
Seen as the best bet in Odisha, Pradhan aims to take on the BJD in next year’s polls.

By the way
While travelling, Pradhan packs his own luggage.

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31. General Bipin Rawat, 59
Army Chief
(New entry)

Why
General Rawat speaks his mind — he justified the sahayak system, warned soldiers against taking to social media to air grievances, and re-invoked the Cold Start doctrine.

Power Punch
He doesn’t hold back on any subject — he declared public supporters of Kashmir militants be treated as enemies, for example.

What Next
He will have to resolve the turf war between the army and the government over the implementation of the pay commission recommendations.

By the way
Carries a basic Nokia model phone and answers calls himself.

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32. Virat Kohli, 28
Captain, Indian cricket team
(Rank 2016: 42)

Why
The only batsman to average over 50 in all three forms of the game, the Bradman-esque Kohli is now also the captain in all three cricketing formats.

Power Punch
Became the first batsman after Bradman to score double centuries in four successive series. Became the first Indian sportsperson to sign a Rs 100 crore endorsement deal with a single brand – Puma.

What Next
Kohli’s all-conquering Indian team now heads to foreign shores with a quest to set their away record straight. Plus, the team will have to defend the Champions Trophy.

By the way
Has a pet beagle called Bruno.

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33. Arvind Kejriwal, 48
Delhi Chief Minister
(Rank 2016: 8)

Why
Drops 25 places after less-than-expected gains in Punjab, a failure in Goa. But his brand of urban politics, stressing on schools and hospitals for the poor, is setting the trend for other states.

Power Punch
Doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, even if it means taking on the PM. Was the first one, with Mamata, to slam demonetisation.

What Next
Municipal elections in Delhi and Assembly elections in Gujarat, where he wants AAP to enter the House.

By the way
Since his last nature treatment in Bangalore, he has given up instant noodles for home-cooked food.

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34. Raman Singh, 64
Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh
(Rank 2016: 45)

Why
He’s been CM for 14 years —and counting.

Power Punch
Shunted out SRP Kalluri and met activist Bela Bhatia after she was threatened. Announced 45 lakh smartphones to the poor.

What Next
2018 Assembly elections.

By the way
Begins the day with a glass of mattha.

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35. Ghulam Nabi Azad, 67
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha
(Rank 2016: 28)

Why
The Gandhi family’s go-to man, Azad has a soft demeanour and political skills, which have come in handy to forge Opposition unity in the Rajya Sabha.

Power Punch
He was the instinctive choice of the Gandhis when poll strategist Prashant Kishor reportedly wanted Madhusudan Mistry removed as Uttar Pradesh polls in-charge.

What Next
Has the tricky task of keeping the Opposition united in the Rajya Sabha.

By the way
He likes to play golf. The lawn at his official residence turns into a mini golf course once in a while.

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36. Mehbooba Mufti, 57
Chief Minister, Jammu & Kashmir
(Rank 2016: 14)

Why
As CM of Jammu and Kashmir and with her party, the PDP, in a coalition with the BJP, she has, as her predecessor Omar Abdullah said recently, “the most difficult job in India to handle”.

Power Punch
Over the last six months, she has tightened her grip on the party by elevating several members of the Mufti clan to the top posts.

What Next
She has to walk a tightrope between her basic political instincts and the demands of her coalition partner. Summer in the restive Valley is her challenge.

By the way
A fitness enthusiast, she has a gym at her Srinagar residence.

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37. Himanta Biswa Sarma, 48
Cabinet Minister, Assam Convenor NEDA
(New entry)

Why
One of the key figures behind BJP’s stunning victory in the 2016 Assam elections. He was also appointed convenor of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).

Power Punch
His NEDA engineered the first BJP government in Arunachal Pradesh by getting the entire Congress to defect to the party.

What Next
Building on the BJP’s growing footprint in the Northeast.

By the way
Sarma is also a writer. His two books, Samagata Samay (2014) and Anya ek Dristikon (2016), have run into several editions.

38. Siddaramaiah, 68
Chief Minister, Karnataka
(Rank 2016: 54)

Why
The CM — having joined the party just over a decade ago — has been able to shrug off allegations of corruption and remains the unchallenged leader of the Congress party in the state.

Power Punch
Following the SC orders in 2016 to release Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu, he defused tensions by co-opting Opposition parties in the crisis resolution process.

What Next
Assembly elections in 2018 — the polls will be a test of his governance.

By the way
Siddaramaiah did not go to school until he was 10 years old, but was the first person from his village to get a bachelor’s degree.

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39. Arvind Subramanian, 57
Chief Economic Adviser
(Rank 2016: 38)

Why
Proposed the Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency to tackle banks’ non-performing assets. Was also behind the Universal Basic Income proposal in the Economic Survey this year.

Power Punch
With Standard & Poor’s ruling out an upgrade in the country’s rating, citing India’s low per capita GDP, he slammed rating agencies for their “inconsistent” and “poor” standards.

What Next
His idea of Universal Basic Income was supported by Arun Jaitley, who hopes to introduce it next year.

By the way
He is fond of American literature.

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40. Ram Madhav, 52
General Secretary, BJP
(Rank 2016: 70)

Why
After turning the tide for the BJP in Assam and J&K, Madhav has now delivered Manipur for the party, despite not getting a majority in the state. He is considered to be among the few to have direct access to both the PM and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Power Punch
His Manipur strategy pushed the party’s tally from a mere two to 21 seats in the state Assembly.

What next
Madhav’s next stop is Meghalaya. Known as the general secretary with the Midas touch, he is seen by many as a successor to Amit Shah, if the latter moves to Gujarat.

By the Way
An avid reader, he has over 4,000 books in his personal library.

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41. Urjit Patel, 53
Governor, Reserve Bank of India
(New entry)

Why
As the RBI governor, he steers banking and monetary policies which influence the country’s economy. The RBI’s decision to approve demonetisation, however, came under criticism, with Patel, a low-profile and media-shy governor, also facing flak for not communicating its policies to the public.

Power Punch
The RBI board cleared the demonetisation proposal within two months of Patel’s elevation as governor in September 2016.

What Next
Will have to tackle inflation and boost growth at the same time, while bringing down bad loans. Details on demonetisation are yet to be announced.

By the way
Patel was born in Kenya, where his father owned a spare parts business.

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42. Lalu Prasad, 70
RJD chief
(Rank 2016: 26)

Why
Lalu Prasad’s RJD holds equal weight in the ruling alliance in Bihar. He continues to command support of his core Muslim-Yadav vote base.

Power Punch
During the Uttar Pradesh elections, Lalu made it evident that he did not want Nitish to be part of any alliance against Mulayam Singh Yadav. The JD(U) eventually didn’t contest.

What Next
His obvious goal is to see his son, the deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, as Bihar chief minister. His perfect political proposition appears to be to have Nitish at the Centre and his son in Bihar.

By the way
Lalu Prasad tells his social media managers to keep his posts raw and rustic.

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43. Mukul Rohatgi, 61
Attorney General of India
(New entry)

Why
After President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, the Centre’s top law officer has bounced back. He got the SC to offer a sympathetic ear to the Centre’s arguments in cases such as demonetisation and Aadhaar.

Power Punch
His reappointment when his term ends in June is considered a certainty.

What Next
Likely to assist the apex court in two important cases: Aadhaar and the Assam citizenship law.

By the way
He loves expensive cars and is known to own many.

44. Fali S Nariman, 88
Constitutional jurist
(Rank 2016: 48)

Why
Continues to be one of the most respected voices in the Supreme Court. Often appointed as the amicus curiae in many cases.

Power Punch
Despite the SC’s wish, he stayed away from the matter of BCCI reforms.

What Next
Assisting the SC in deciding whether a State and persons holding public offices could make statements about a crime which may affect the morale of the victim and has a negative impact on society.

By the way
Admits that as far as Zoroastrianism is concerned, his son, Justice Rohington Nariman, is more knowledgable than him.

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45. Pinarayi Vijayan, 73
Chief Minister, Kerala
(New entry)

Why
Is the undisputed leader of the CPI (M) in the state, where it’s called the Pinarayi Vijayan government rather than an LDF one.

Power Punch
Despite staunch opposition from right-wing organisations, Vijayan went ahead and addressed a communal harmony rally in Mangalore in February.

What Next
Vijayan will have to prove his mettle as an able administrator. Nine months into his tenure, the government has been hit by law and order issues.

By the way
Fond of films, he is a big fan of action movies.

46. Ramdev, 51
Yoga guru
(Rank 2016: 27)

Why
Patanjali is the most influential swadeshi brand today and as its he-ad, Ramdev serves a popular mix of yoga, Hindu nationalism and FMCG. He frequently steps into politics and hobnobs with the most powerful men in the current establishment.

Power Punch
Has expanded his business from Rs 2,000 crore in 2014 to Rs 5,000 crore now. His naturopathy centre in Haridwar, inaugurated by Arun Jaitley, is now a VVIP facility, charging up to Rs 50,000 per day.

What Next
To get his business to touch the Rs 1 lakh crore mark.

By the way
Patanjali outlets are there even in areas such as Dandakaranya.

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47. Vinod Rai, 68
Chairman, BCCI Committee of Administrators
(New entry)

Why
He had an eventful stint under the UPA as CAG. In the NDA government, he has been brought in to fix PSU banks, and is now working to implement structural reforms in the way cricket is run in the country.

Power Punch
He reported “abnormal” increase in expenditure at Padmanabh-aswamy Temple and missing gold valued at Rs 186 crore that stunned the Travancore Royal family.

What Next
The reforms in cricket from the top body to different state cricket associations would be his immediate focus.

By the way
He likes trekking in the hills.

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48. Chandrababu Naidu, 66
Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh
(Rank 2016: 44)

Why
Since the 2014 bifurcation, Naidu has led and built Andhra Pradesh from scratch. His land pooling strategy for the new capital, Amaravati, is now considered a model for land acquisition.

Power Punch
Despite a resource crunch and the Centre refusing to award the state Special Category status, Naidu went ahead with Amaravati’s construction.

What Next
Establishing Visakhapatnam as an IT hub to rival Hyderabad.

By the way
He loves yellow shirts — the party colour — and always carries at least three crisp ironed shirts with him wherever he goes.

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49. Ratan Tata, 79
Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons
(Rank 2016: 35)

Why
Managed to oust Cyrus Mistry as Tata Sons Chairman, after expressing unhappiness over his management style and functioning.

Power Punch
Mistry, whose family is the largest single party shareholder in Tata Sons, was later removed from boards of various group companies and Tata Trust.

What Next
Tata will now have to ensure that there is stability at the top or investor confidence in group companies may decline.

By the way
Other than automobiles and aviation, Tata also has an
interest in scuba diving and architectural design.

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50. Mayawati, 61
President, Bahujan Samaj Party
(Rank 2016: 30)

Why
Despite her party’s poor performance in the UP Assembly elections, Mayawati remains a prominent voice among BJP’s opponents.

Power Punch
Her allegations saying tampering of EVMs was the reason for BJP’s victory have now been backed by other parties. Mayawati has also said she would move courts for an inquiry.

What Next
With the BSP’s tally in the Assembly now reduced to just 19 seats, she must keep her party united in the face of criticism. She is also likely to lose her berth in the Rajya Sabha next year and would need the support of either the SP or the BJP to get re-elected.

By the way
Drafts her own speeches and press statements.

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