- POSTED: 23 Dec 2013 16:53
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Most political pundits in India are predicting the opposition right-wing Hindu party, the BJP, will gain even more ground on its rivals ahead of the 2014 general election.
NEW DELHI: Most political pundits in India are predicting the opposition right-wing Hindu party, the BJP, will gain even more ground on its rivals ahead of the 2014 general election.
This follows encouraging results in the recent Assembly elections in the capital.
Leading the charge for the opposition is its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, 63.
Mr Modi is one of the most controversial politicians in India. He is accused of taking insufficient action against rioting mobs in his home state Gujarat in 2002 when over 1,000 people were killed.
But he was re-elected as Chief Minister for the third time this year and was nominated as the BJP's prime minister candidate for the 2014 election.
Mr Modi's rally in Mumbai on Sunday drew mammoth crowds, and sitting in a special enclosure were tea vendors.
This was his way of not just acknowledging his humble past when he used to sell tea at a railway station, but also at projecting himself as a common Indian aspiring for India's top job, as opposed to dynastic politicians.
Prime Minister hopeful Modi said: "I was reading that tea vendors have been given special passes. The winds of change have begun. In the days to come, the common man is going to become a VIP (Very Important Person).”
This was a veiled swipe at his critics, who have made disparaging remarks about Mr Modi's humble origins.
Naresh Agarwal, Samajwadi Party leader, said: "Narendra Modi, who used to be a tea seller, now wants to become the PM. A tea seller can only be a soldier; he is not fit to be the captain."
But India has had several prime ministers who were from economically poor backgrounds -- Deve Gowda, India's 11th prime minister was a mere farmer, and India's ninth prime minister Narasimha Rao who ushered in economic reforms was from a very poor family.
India's current two-term prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh also hails from a very poor family, having studied on scholarship through school and college and reached the pinnacle of political life through hard work.
World Bank figures said that almost 70 per cent of India lives on less than US$2 a day, and they seem to connect better with a Narendra Modi or a Dr Manmohan Singh rather than political dynasts and the elite.
It is a factor likely to help the BJP as they push for power next year.