The limits of power are defined by the individuals who wield it. The 10 politicians in our list, recognised as the most powerful in the country, certainly derive their authority from the positions they hold-but that is not the sole source of their power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for example, has mastered silence and secrecy, craftily combining it with an element of surprise to add an aura to his constitutional authority. From the surgical strike to demonetisation, disruption is the new language of power. And as he constructs his vision of New India, his two major force multipliers-BJP president Amit Shah and RSS sarsangh chalak Mohan Bhagwat have been redefining India’s electoral politics and seeking to re-engineer its social discourse. At the same time, Modi’s core agenda of development is served by his cabinet colleagues Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari, who have been oiling the wheels of administration to ensure growth in GDP, FDI and road construction.
At the other end of this spectrum are chief ministers-like Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar-who challenge the Modi doctrine. But the narrative of political power has been rewritten this year by two unconventional politicians-UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Dr Subramanium Swamy who is recently jolted several top congress leadership in corruption cases. And then there is Rahul Gandhi, the permanent understudy, who is yet to define his place in the political landscape. He could learn from the other members in the list-Modi, Bhagwat, Mamata and Adityanath.
Rank 1- NARENDRA MODI
Age: 66, Prime Minister of India
PM Narendra Modi
First among equals
Because he is the unchallenged leader of India. With the Congress desperately trying to remain relevant and regional stalwarts restricted to their own turfs, there is no political leader who can serve as a credible alternative
Because the victory in Uttar Pradesh has almost ensured that he will have a second term, and silenced his detractors within the BJP
Because his soaring personal popularity ensures the government massive public support for difficult and dangerous decisions-from the surgical strike in PoK to demonetisation
DID YOU KNOW? When he writes in Hindi or Gujarati, he usually doesn’t have to change or rewrite a single word for copy running up to 10 pages
Rank 2- AMIT SHAH
Age: 54, BJP President
BJP President Amit Shah
Because he was behind the BJP’s massive victory in Uttar Pradesh. This demolished the idea that elections in India are won only on caste- and religion-based platforms
Because he is the prime minister’s most trusted lieutenant. He impressed upon Modi the importance of selecting Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh
Because he was behind the BJP’s opening up of new political frontiers in places it has traditionally been weak Assam and Manipur
DID YOU KNOW? He is fond of Hindi movie thrillers, and goes to watch films with his wife, Sonal. He was also a successful trader at the stock market
Rank -3 MOHAN BHAGWAT
Age: 66, RSS Sarsanghchalak
RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat
Because he heads the RSS, the ideological guiding force behind the BJP. It’s no coincidence that several BJP chief ministers, including Devendra Fadnavis, M.L. Khattar, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Sarbananda Sonowal maintain a hotline to Bhagwat.
Because his opinion is asked for whenever the Union government takes a policy decision-appraisals of several key ministries are regularly performed at RSS headquarters in Nagpur. An instance: while framing the new education policy, the HRD ministry took serious note of the RSS’s swadeshi philosophy on education.
DID YOU KNOW? His favourite song in his college days was ‘Mere saamne wali khidki mein’ from the film Padosan.
Rank 4- ARUN JAITLEY
Age: 64, Union Minister for Finance, and Corporate Affairs
Union Minister for Finance, and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley
Because he is the ultimate troubleshooter for the government-from negotiating with J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to reaching out to the late J. Jayalalithaa to get the AIADMK on board with GST. It was his negotiation skills that helped the Modi government get the GST Bill passed.
Because he is responsible for ensuring that the Indian economy continues to grow. India is projected to grow at 7.2 per cent in 2017 and 7.7 per cent in 2018. FDI flows into India touched an eight-year high (almost Rs 3 lakh crore) in 2016
DID YOU KNOW? From being a foodie, he has become a disciplined eater, with small meals every two hours
Rank 5- YOGI ADITYANATH/NEW
Age: 44, Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath
Because he has been chosen to rule Uttar Pradesh by the most powerful people in the country-Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Thanks to Adityanath’s aggressive Hindutva agenda, he also has the blessings of the RSS, though he has never been a pracharak. However the loss in the home turf at Gorakhpur has dented his power at the national level.
Because he has emerged as the strongest Hindutva icon of recent times, eliciting comparison even with Prime Minister Modi’s initial years as chief minister of Gujarat. There are projections in party circles that he could even rise to be the heir apparent to Modi.
DID YOU KNOW? He owns a revolver worth Rs 1 lakh, and a rifle worth Rs 80,000. He is the only CM to have been booked on an attempt to murder charge.
Rank 6- MAMATA BANERJEE/ NEW
Age: 62, Chief Minister, West Bengal
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
Because despite facing a grand alliance of the Left and the Congress, the EC breathing down her neck, scams tumbling out of her party cupboard and a flyover collapsing in the middle of the election, she won the 2016 assembly polls with a landslide victory.
Because though the TMC is only the fourth largest party in the Lok Sabha and the fifth largest in the Rajya Sabha, its MPs have emerged as the most vocal opponents of the government in both houses, often eclipsing the principal opposition party, the Congress.
DID YOU KNOW? She has written 69 books, and relaxes by painting, singing, playing the synthesiser and cooking. She walks around 5 km every day on a treadmill
Rank 7- NITISH KUMAR
Age: 66, Chief Minister, Bihar
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
Because he is the most acceptable leader of any probable coalition against the BJP juggernaut. The Congress accepted his leadership in Bihar, with even his bete noire Lalu Prasad Yadav joining hands with him. He can also count on the support of Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik.
Because he takes his own decisions and stands by his convictions. He did not succumb to pressure over the liquor ban in Bihar, and refused to join the Opposition chorus against Prime Minister Modi’s demonetisation move, even publicly applauding it
DID YOU KNOW? He often carries a CD on Yoga Nidra. He loves rasgullas from a shop in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. Fav-ourite food: masala dosa
Rank 8- NITIN GADKARI
Age: 59, Union Minister for Roads, Transport and Highways
Union Minister for Roads, Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari
Because he is one of the key ministers in Prime Minister Modi’s cabinet. His ministry claims to have constructed 8,144 km of roads in 2016-17, at 23 km per day. He says he wants to raise that to 40 km per day
Because the heads of several Indian banks look at him with gratitude for bringing down the quantum of NPAs (soured loans) on their books. Gadkari managed to get a series of stalled road projects, that banks had issued loans for, off the ground
DID YOU KNOW? When Gadkari was in the US, travelling from San Francisco to Los Angeles, he had the idea of having a new Mumbai-Goa highway constructed along the coast. Work has already begun.
Rank 9- Dr Subramanium Swamy
Age: 75,BJP RS MP
Merit Subramanian Swamy is an Indian economist, mathematician, lawyer and politician who serve as a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament: he is Harward scholar and brilliant economist.
Because he successful in combating corruption in India via judiciary, media and parliament
Because he is close to RSS and a Hindu mascot associated with Ram temple, Ram setu, Kailash Mansaorwar related issues since long
DID YOU KNOW? Dr Swamy was cabinet miniter with Law & Jistice and Commerce portfolio. He is perpahs the most followed BJP leader on twitter and facebook.
Rank 10- RAHUL GANDHI
Age: 46, Congress Vice-president
Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi
Failure to launch
Because despite the party losing successive elections since 2014, there is no threat to his position and authority. He is head of India’s second largest party.
Because as the chief of the grand old party, he is a possible pivot around which a grand alliance against the ruling BJP could form. The Congress is the only party acceptable to almost all other parties-from the TMC to the Left, SP to the BSP, JD-U to the RJD
DID YOU KNOW? He got the 2012 Delhi gang rape victim Nirbhaya’s younger brother to train at the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi in Raebareli. He is now a pilot with a reputed airline. He also helped the elder brother in his engineering studies.
By OPINION EXPRESS News Desk.