20. J. Jayalalithaa,61AIADMK Chief
You simply cant ignore a person who honestly believes that she is destined to rule the state. Especially if she is one of the major players lording over as many as 40 precious Parliamentary seats ahead of a crucial general election. Notwithstanding the 40-0 drubbing received by the AIADMK alliance last time,Amma was wooed by the Left parties,whose leaders were in Chennai recently to firm up their new-found partnership.
In 1998,Jaya rose to national prominence when her partys support became crucial for the Vajpayee government. When she did not support it,the government fell by one vote.
AIADMK has stitched a partnership with the Left,enlarging the alliance that only has MDMK. S. Ramadoss of PMK may be a potential partner.
21. M. Karunanidhi, 85
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
Any party combine that aims to capture power at the Centre knows it needs to woo the DMK and its chief M. Karunanidhi. After all,Tamil Nadu and Puducherry send 40 members to Parliament,enough to make or break any alliance. The BJPs first successful stint in Delhi and the Congresss first experiment with coalition governance had DMK at the Centre.
In 2004,even as poll pundits favoured the BJP-led NDA,Karunanidhi brought together parties opposed to his bete noire AIADMK in the name of the Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA). The alliance won all 40 seats.
One of the toughest elections lies ahead as Karunanidhi faces an angry PMK,a betrayed Left and agitated MDMK,all of whom were his partners till recently.
22. Shah Rukh Khan, 43
SRK is Bollywoods biggest brand,the undisputable emperor in the overseas market and even owns a cricket team. Newsweek had him on its list of 50 most powerful people in the world and Malaysia bestowed him with its highest title of a Datuk.
He got the entire industry to shake a leg with him in Om Shanti Om. For his latest,Billu,he managed to get three reigning queensKareena Kapoor,Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukonegratis for three item songs. He also represented the Indian film industry at the Golden Globes this year.
With My Name Is Khan to be released this year,trade gurus will look up to SRK to get the big moolah flowing into the recession-hit industry.
23. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 27
Indian Cricket Captain
He has to his credit a T20 world championship win,a tri-series victory in Australia,back-to-back series victories against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka,an Indian record winning streak of nine straight wins,an ODI winning percentage of 58.69,a Test winning percentage of 80.
Late last year,when Australia were in India,he threatened to quit captaincy when the selectors wanted to drop R.P. Singha rather irrelevant debate considering it was only a spot on the bench. The selectors did not relent,and when the story of his resignation threat was leaked to the media,Dhoni reacted by slamming the selectors in public.
Theres the tour to New Zealand. Then India will look to defend their Twenty20 crown and play the Champions Trophy.