From what it seems, till now the buildup to the upcoming polls in 2014 is all about the fight between Rahul Gandhi, the next leader of Congress, and Narendra Modi, the man on whom BJP is pinning its hopes. This has happened in spite of what the top brass of the Indian National Congress wants. Modi has previously pointed a finger at the Congress in the context of corruption in the country, while addressing a rally held in Jaipur.
The question of food security
During the first public rally addressed by Rahul in Delhi before the upcoming assembly polls in the city, he had sought to justify the Food Security Bill being prioritized by the ruling coalition. He told the naysayers that resources had to be allocated on an urgent basis so that the Food Security Bill could be implemented properly. However, in spite of the claims being made by Rahul, many experts are doubtful if this is the right way to go about things as far as empowerment of the underprivileged is concerned. The Food Security Bill has, incidentally, come under fire from the BJP, which considers it a waste of funds. Some other political parties such as the Samajwadi Party have also criticized the bill, stating that it will put a lot of undue pressure on the states.
The road ahead for Narendra Modi
There are several factors that Modi will have to look into wholeheartedly if he wishes to be the next Prime Minister of India. His role in the Godhra riots of 2002 is still a matter of hot debate for many and there is a general feeling that he should apologize to the Muslim community. He has tried to change that with several Sadbhavana Yatras as well as projecting himself as a leader who is more concerned with growth, but to date has not been able to make much ground in that regard. In fact, in the upcoming assembly polls this could have some serious repercussions on how he fares.
Modi also needs to come up with a clear-cut vision for India under him from an economic, social and political point of view. He should increase his acceptability for other parties who could become potential allies. Modi needs to show that he is capable of building a consensus both in the party as well as outside it. There are also suggestions that he should relinquish the post of Gujarat Chief Minister and travel across the country in order to connect with a bigger audience.
International relations and geopolitics have been major areas of concern for Modi to date – he clearly needs to brush up and do well in these domains so that he stands a good chance to be the Prime Minister. Modi could face problems in states with a sizeable Muslim population, such as Bihar, where Nitish Kumar has clearly refused to share podium with him. This means he will have to come up with a proper strategy to perform well in these states where he may not have the desired support.
The road ahead for Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi needs to take up a public role and perform it successfully so that people are convinced that he has the administrative capabilities needed to succeed at this level. He should also increase his amount of interaction with the common people and do it in a more open way.
It is imperative that the Gandhi scion have a proper vision for India and communicate it effectively. Rahul’s stance on critical issues pertaining to economy is not always clear. He also needs to prove his leadership within the party.
Uttar Pradesh, which to date has favored the Gandhi and Nehru family, has changed now and there are new dimensions to the power politics being played within that part of India. For Rahul Gandhi it will be a major challenge to deal with these new developments.
Comparison between both
Narendra Modi has been described as a great orator while Rahul Gandhi has not demonstrated similar levels of comfort in big meetings. Modi has been governing his state like a CEO runs his or her company, with complete control and authority. On the other hand, Rahul has absolutely no ministerial experience.
Modi is celebrated as a hero in the new middle-class, while Rahul is aiming to represent the dreams of the youth in the country. Both the contenders have also tried to bring about changes within their respective party structures and according to political experts it has been a tough job for Gandhi, as the Congress has not always been very flexible to change.
Modi, on the other hand, is not well appreciated by everyone in the Sangh Parivar, which holds the cards in BJP; and although he has reduced their importance in Gujarat, at the national level it could be quite a challenge.