The race for India’s next prime minister
With the Congress-led coalition government more than halfway through its five-year term, the political temperature is heating up in the world’s largest democracy. The question on everyone’s minds is — who’s going to be the next prime minister?
A recent Nielsen survey had showed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was the top choice for the post, ahead of Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
But last week’s conviction of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker in the Gujarat riots is a blow to Modi, and the political fallout from the case may have dented his hopes of sitting in the prime minister’s chair.
Senior party leader Lal Krishna Advani had earlier stoked controversy by blogging about the possibility of a “non-Congress, non-BJP prime minister” after the 2014 elections.
It’s not just internal party dynamics, the BJP’s allies are also giving Modi sleepless nights. Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar has made it clear he won’t be happy if Modi is projected as the BJP candidate.
And what about the Congress? Incumbent Manmohan Singh seems to be out of the reckoning and several senior Congress leaders have hinted at the elevation of Rahul Gandhi.
But that’s easier said than done. A political crisis over suspected corruption in the allocation of coal blocks has put the government on the back foot. Its performance in this year’s Uttar Pradesh state elections, often a barometer of success at the national level, wasn’t good enough to stave off regional rivals. What was more painful — its main campaigner was Rahul Gandhi and his ‘magic’ did not work.
It seems both the BJP and Congress have their fair share of challenges in the run-up to the battle of 2014. Will it be a personality contest between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi or a third, unforeseen candidate? No matter how things shape up, Indian politics promise to be exciting in the months to come.