(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)
Speculation has been rife lately within India’s centre-right nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over who will be its candidate for prime minister in the 2014 general elections.
There were four possible candidates a few months back, but the choice seems to have narrowed to Narendra Modi, the controversial chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, or Sushma Swaraj, the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament.
The rumblings come from a restive faction that has tired of a leadership crisis in the party. This has become evident after warring factions within the BJP exposed themselves when anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal accused party president Nitin Gadkari of illegally acquiring government land. BJP lawmakers Ram Jethmalani and Yashwant Sinha were among those who demanded Gadkari’s resignation in the wake of Kejriwal’s allegations and media reports that questioned the source of funding for Gadkari’s firm.
Modi seems to have the edge over his competitors, considering his performance as chief minister of Gujarat where he has brought uninterrupted power supply, smooth roads and a flood of investment. He also enjoys the support of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the right-wing volunteer force that controls the BJP.