India Gears up for a Heavyweight Clash at the Next General Election

Voter reads an election pamphlet
Voter reads an election pamphlet. Photo: Al Jazeera English/flickr.

India’s next general election, scheduled for 2014 at the latest, is already shaping up to be one of the most anticipated in decades. Over recent weeks, the two main parties – the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – have hinted at who might lead them once campaigning officially starts. Although the two likely contenders are not household names outside India, both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi are heavyweights on the domestic political stage.

The two men are as different as can be. Rahul Gandhi is the youthful upstart without much experience, but who holds the backing of a powerful political family. Narendra Modi is possibly India’s most divisive political figure – adored by many for overseeing unprecedented economic growth in his home state of Gujarat, but equally reviled for his alleged involvement in the worst communal riots in India’s recent history.