New Delhi: With Narendra Modi heading the BJP`s Lok Sabha campaign panel, the stage is set for a virtual showdown between the Gujarat chief minister and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi next year.
While Modi was named the Bharatiya Janata Party`s central poll campaign committee head Sunday, Gandhi was picked in November last year to head the Congress election coordination committee.
This happened two months before Gandhi was made the vice president, second only to his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi.
Though neither Rahul Gandhi nor Modi have yet been named the prime ministerial nominee of their parties, it is clear that both will lead the charge ahead of the next general election.
Modi and Gandhi are contrasting personalities.
While Modi, 62, has an advantage of winning three assembly polls and administrative experience since 2001, Gandhi, 42, has not held any position in the government since he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004.
Also, while Modi had a humble start as a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak and gradually moved up the ranks in the BJP, Gandhi is viewed as one holding the present post largely due to his surname.
But experts are not sure if Modi and Gandhi will be the prime ministerial candidates.
"It is still not known if the BJP will project Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. There is already a power struggle on in the BJP," Nisar ul Haq, who teaches political science at Jamia Millia Islamia, told IANS.
Pradeep Dutta, who teaches political science at Delhi University, said the picture will be clearer after six months.
"It depends on whether the Congress will project Rahul as future prime minister or not. Opposition to Modi from allies and low caste regional political players could well undermine his popularity," Dutta told IANS.
Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told IANS: "If Modi is projected as PM it will help us."