Narendra Modi , 67, Prime Minister of India

Master of infinity

Because his continuing popularity and election-winning abilities remain an existential threat not just for the Congress but for regional parties too. Hence the aligning of rivals SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh. Yet, despite bypoll setbacks and opposition unity, he’s still the BJP’s best bet for 2019

Because after a year-and-a-half of uncertainty, his government has put the Indian economy back on track, a faith investors and credit rating agencies have reinforced

Because he retains his international appeal, from the US to Russia, Middle East to Southeast Asia

Amit Shah BJP President

Force multiplier


Because he remains an ace electoral strategist, notching win after win, taking the BJP tally to 18 states in which it is in government directly or indirectly, including in the Northeast. The recent bypoll defeats, though, could be the first warning signs of fallibility.

Dipak Misra – CJI India

Dipak Misra is set to retire on October 2. With many former judges going on to hold post-retirement posts, it will be interesting to see what he decides.

Mohan Bhagwat, 67, RSS Sarsanghchalak

Despite speculation that the BJP has grown too big for the RSS, Mohan Bhagwat remains the most influential person outside the government. The BJP’s parent body continues to drive the government’s sociocultural and educational agenda — the RSS is learnt to have pushed the government to expedite the triple talaq Bill. Because, despite challenges, he continues to be in complete command of India’s largest cultural organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, after nine years.

Sonia Gandhi, 71, UPA Chairperson

Amid talks of formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP front by some regional parties and political manoeuvrings by Mamata and old warhorse Pawar, Sonia reached out to likeminded parties over a dinner. The message was clear — that the Congress cannot be sidelined and would lead any possible anti-BJP front. Because they are striving to emphasise that while the arithmetic of a united Opposition may work without the Congress, there will be no chemistry to bind them.

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