It could be a Rahul Vs Modi affair in 2014: US report

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 14:03

Washington: As the debate on potential prime ministerial contenders for the 2014 elections picks up in India, a US Congressional report says it might just turn out to be a direct contest between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader 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 BJP in 2014, while at the same time discussing the prospect of the Congress putting up Rahul Gandhi for the position.

However, the report which gives a detailed account of
international political dimensions of India, does not clearly
state it would be a Modi vs 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 September 1, which was
made public yesterday 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 organisations, 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 UPA chair, 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
privatisation. 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.

"These include a more effective branding of the party as
one focused on development and good governance rather than
emotive, Hindutva-related issues, and Gadkari`s success at
quelling intra-party dissidence and, by some accounts, showing
superior strategising and organising skills as compared to his
predecessors," the report said.
"Yet among the party`s likely candidates for the prime
ministership in future elections is Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi, who has overseen impressive development
successes in his state, but who is also dogged by controversy
over his alleged complicity in lethal anti-Muslim rioting
there in 2002," it said.

At the same time CRS brings to the notice of lawmakers
that Modi has in the past been denied a US visa under an
American law barring entry for foreign government officials
found to be complicit in severe violations of religious
freedom.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 13:10

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