Narendra Modi, India’s Next Prime Minister?

Opposition leader Narendra Modi is on the verge of becoming India’s next prime minister.

National election voting in India begin tomorrow. Modi, 63, is the prime minister candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, which is leading in opinion polls over the ruling Congress party.

India has 815 million registered voters that are eligible to cast ballots.

According to some observers of politics in India, Modi — who is the chief minister of the state of Gujarat — embraces a free-market philosophy along the lines of that espoused by the late Margaret Thatcher. “If you define Thatcherism as less government, free enterprise, then there is no difference between Modi-nomics and Thatcherism,” said one supporter. “Modi’s inner circle also includes prominent economists and industrialists who share a desire to see his BJP draw a line under India’s socialist past, cut welfare and reduce the role of government in business.” Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990.

Opinion polls suggests that with Modi’s popularity, the BJP is close to winning 272 seats in India’s lower parliamentary house to capture a majority and “potentially providing Mr. Modi with a strong mandate to push through badly needed structural economic reforms.”

Narendra Modi, who is Hindu, has received criticism for what some claim was an insufficient response during religious riots in Gujarat in 2002 that resulted in the death of about 1,000 persons, most of whom were Muslim. In this campaign, he has try to avoid hot-button religious issues, however, and projected a moderate image. “Facing off against Rahul Gandhi, the 43-year-old scion of India’s powerful Nehru-Gandhi political clan, whose Congress party has governed India since 2004, Mr. Modi has positioned himself as a champion of economic development and no-nonsense government. He cites growth and industrialization under his leadership in Gujarat and says all of India will enjoy the same if he becomes premier.”

[Image credit: Wikipedia]