As the days dawn on the eve of India’s most important national election year in 2014, let’s take a moment to recall the names of all those who made this the most entertaining year in Indian politics. Seriously who needs prime time soaps, when our news hours were coloured with curses and praise both for the deviations and adulatory parlance made by our leaders and hopefuls. We decidedly gave Congress’ golden boy, Rahul Gandhi out of the gallantry of these bright and not-so-shinning stars simply because he’s spent the year squatting on the fence. Let role-call begin
We could have placed Arvind Kejriwal on this list but then the man has remained unflinching in his desire to place the credit for his political standing’s stunning show in the Delhi assembly election on the common man. Yet the credit turns to onus in 2014 as India heads to national elections that could well redefine the debacle-state of democracy the country finds itself in. The Aam Aadmi would need to make his vote count several times over.
Like her or loathe her but the fact remains as the Chairperson of the Congress Party, which led the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to two consecutive victories in the national elections, she has the potential to both polarize and pulverize Indian polity, and with months to go before the UPA’s push for a third term her power (the implied meaning left open to argument) remains undisputed. Now only if someone could keep those Swiss bank managers handcuffed for a while longer.
We’ve seen journalist’s turn into politicians probably as frequently as Tehelka creator Tarun Tejpal changed his locus-standi in the now infamous “alleged” rape case. A look at a live Lok/Rajya Sabha session and you’ll see how many scribes rather eloquently skipped over from a pen in the newsroom to a podium in parliament. Yet as the judicial system keeps aside all the voices of vendetta, Tejpal would become one of the few journalists privileged to be at the heart of a powerful political and judicial discourse.
The right wing, suspected undercover lady phone-tap lover, favourite 2014 PM candidate of the urban Indian, Modi remains the man to reckon with (Did we mention he is also the only man to reckon with, being the only declared PM candidate up until now). His alleged snooping habits aside NaMo’s flourishing campaign has brought an American style swing into Indian politics, where personality takes precedence as the mark of permutation. We gleefully pointed out the same last year when we predicted Modi Mania might become an Oxford English Dictionary term. We weren’t really off, since NaMo seems to be a suitable contender.
VEERAVALLI SUNDARAM SAMPATH
Sampath who you ask? The Chief Election Commissioner remains the most underrated player in India’s political landscape, with months to go before the parliamentary polls and days after democracy in the Indian context left a six decade infancy to enter into adolescence, the Chief Election Commissioner’s (CEC) would need to strike the right balance of freedom and control to ensure the ground for conjecture remains slim in this critical phase.
MULAYAM SINGH YADAV
Mulayam Singh Yadav remains a man of immense power thanks in part to geographical boundaries of his political domain. With as many as 80 Lok Sabha seats in his stronghold Uttar Pradesh, it remains to be seen if Yadav would play kingpin or kingmaker in the upcoming polls. Again as we had said last year, only in politics and films can one find aberrations to the effect where a Lion (Singh) would be prefixed with Mulayam (soft) and the Samajwadi Party’s new anthem (rights to the music acquired from none other than Billy Joel) seems to agree. (Listen here)
THE 2014 FINANCE MINISTER
At times even portfolios have personalities and in these testing times of recession any political concession to accommodate a sub-par performer to lead India’s financial recovery could prove summarily suicidal. More than a political leader the Indian economy requires socio-economic specialists capable of dealing with the complexities of split-level development. The role is likely to become even more interesting in 2014 with power-hungry and anti-incumbency fearing politicians likely to drain even the most desolate dime from the state coffers to please the vote banks ahead of a national election.
SHIVRAJ SINGH CHOUHAN
The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has emerged as a solid political force. With him vowing to contribute the maximum number of seats in the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign to upsurge UPA in the 2014 national polls, there is a strategy beyond the numbers and rhetoric that needs to be taken account of. His growth formula for Madhya Pradesh remains untarnished and that alone marks him as a man to watch in the upcoming year.
As the Indian judicial system comes under increased scrutiny brought by the quasi transparency offered by the increasing influence of social media, CJI Sathasivam’s role becomes paramount. With the Judiciary being the only constitutional resource that can reign in politicians already in office, the role that the Supreme Court plays in ensuring the Indian political spectrum remains corruption free and true to the egalitarian emphasis of the constitution is more than likely to be the basic gene of India’s fortunes in 2014.
His robotic salute and silence aside (it could give ASIMO a complex), Manmohan Singh remains an economist of merit and his critics have often been silenced by the fact that he has remained an elected Prime Minister of India since May 2004. While the dogma’s related to the UPA’s second term in power tainted by allegations of corruption, double speak and financial follies might stick on, Singh’s legacy as a man who led India through a tumultuous period of change is likely to make the cut as a lesson in history.