Washington: As the debate on potential prime ministerial contenders for the 2014 elections picks up in India, a United States congressional report says it might just turn out to be a direct contest between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
A latest report on India by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a bipartisan and independent research wing of the US Congress, finds Modi a strong prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, while at the same time discussing the prospect of the Congress putting up Rahul Gandhi for the position.
(From left to right) Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi (File Photo)
However, the report which gives a detailed account of international political dimensions of India, does not clearly state it would be a Modi versus Gandhi affair in 2014.
“The 2009 polls may have represented a coming out party of sorts for the younger Gandhi, who many expect to be put forward as Congress’ prime ministerial candidate in scheduled 2014 elections,” said the report dated 1 September, which was made public on Tuesday by the Federation of American Scientists.
CRS reports are meant for consumption of US lawmakers and are generally not available in the public domain. However, many a times due to efforts of certain think-tanks and non-governmental organizations, these are made available in the public domain.
“Yet this heir-apparent remains dogged by questions about his abilities to lead the party, given a mixed record as an election strategist, uneasy style in public appearances, and reputation for gaffes,” the CRS said.
Party chief and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson, Sonia Gandhi is seen to wield considerable influence over the coalition’s policy making process, it said. “Her foreign origins have presented an obstacle and likely was a major factor in her surprising 2004 decision to decline the prime ministership,” the report said, adding that Rahul is widely seen as the most likely heir to Congress leadership.
On the BJP’s front, on the other hand, Modi is among the party’s likely candidates for the prime ministership, the report said. “At present, the BJP president is Nitin Gadkari, a former Maharashtran official known for his avid support of privatization. Although still in some disorder in 2011, there are signs that the BJP has made changes necessary to be a formidable challenger in scheduled 2014 polls,” it said.