- POSTED: 23 Sep 2013 11:30
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India's two prime ministerial hopefuls -- one yet to be confirmed -- have begun addressing people in public rallies. Even though general elections won't be held till early next year, intense media scrutiny of the two candidates have already began.
NEW DELHI: India's two prime ministerial hopefuls -- one yet to be confirmed -- have begun addressing people in public rallies which have drawn crowds of up to several hundred thousand people.
Provincial elections are to be held in November, while general elections will be held early next year -- however, intense media scrutiny of the two candidates have already began.
Rahul Gandhi -- Family legacy
The ruling Congress-led UPA coalition has not formally declared its candidate for prime minister, but many in the party have said that it will be Rahul Gandhi, the 43-year-old vice-president of the party -- despite having not held any position in the government.
Rahul has been the Congress Party's star campaigner in the past two elections, but despite pressure from within his party, he has not yet shown any ambition to be prime minister.
Even in his speeches, he makes a very conscious effort to manage the expectations surrounding him.
"I want to give up my dreams so that I can make your dreams come true," he had said in one of his speeches.
Unlike his great-grandfather, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru -- Rahul is not much of an orator. He is not much like his grandmother Indira Gandhi either, the third Prime Minister of India, who was assassinated in 1984.
Most people feel that Rahul is actually more like his father Rajiv Gandhi, the pilot who became the nation's sixth prime minister and was assassinated in 1989.
Naive and charming, Rahul is modest even when he makes claims about his party's achievements, and he does not just play politics to the galleries.
Narendra Modi -- A stark contrast
This style is in stark contrast to that of his main contender, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi.
The three-time chief minister of the western India state of Gujarat can work magic with the crowds -- he uses wit, humour, and sarcasm in equal measure. His rallies are mammoth in size with rousing speeches.
Modi ends all of his speech with "Praise be to Mother India" -- a slogan that is mildly controversial as some Muslims object to the underlying Hindu message of patriotism.
However, this does not deter Modi, who unabashedly projects his strong religious leaning.
Compared to Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi comes across as a more effective communicator. However, India does not have a presidential form of government, so policies are supposed to matter more than personalities when it comes to wooing voters.
Many of India's prime ministers have had poor oratorical skills -- their ability to draw crowds does not determine the number of votes they pull in. In a multi-party democracy like India, with a population of 1.2 billion and several hundred languages, it is indeed difficult to evocatively deliver a political message.