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Updated March 16th, 2024 at 20:41 IST

Lok Sabha Polls: 10 Key Political Figures Who Will Drive the Narrative this Election

From Narendra Modi to Asaduddin Owaisi, here are 10 key political figures who will determine the electoral discourse in ways big and small.

PM Narendra Modi is seeking a historic third term in the upcoming elections.
PM Narendra Modi is seeking a historic third term in the upcoming elections. | Image:PTI
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New Delhi: Some are powerful orators who grab attention with their words, others are behind-the-scenes strategists plotting victory for their parties and all are key drivers of the narrative as the country hurtles toward general elections beginning April 19. From Narendra Modi to Asaduddin Owaisi, here are 10 key political figures who will determine the electoral discourse in ways big and small:

Narendra Modi

Seeking a third straight term, Modi is not just looking to stamp his electoral dominance on India but also chasing history with another consecutive victory equalling the first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s record.

Pushing a brand of muscular nationalism entirely his own, Modi is likely to build his narrative around "Modi ki guarantee" and the march towards "Viksit Bharat (developed India)". The 73-year-old leader is going into the elections brimming with confidence about returning to office for the third time and has already begun work on a blueprint for his next term.

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Amit Shah

The undeclared 'number 2' in the cabinet, often described as the 'Chanakya' of the BJP's electoral juggernaut, will be the brain behind the BJP's political manoeuvres this poll season.

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Be it abrogation of Article 370 or the CAA law, he has shepherded the government in many tricky situations as home minister. Shah, 59, will once again be seen in the avatar of a general marshaling his troops on the electoral battlefield.

Rahul Gandhi

From being the Congress president under whom the party suffered a crushing defeat in 2019, he has gone on to become what many describe as the "ideological compass" of the party. His Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra gave him a much-needed image makeover but electoral defeats in state polls have put a question mark on just how effective it was.

With his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, Gandhi, 53, has again reached out to the people with Congress guarantees aimed at ensuring justice for the people. Whether that will click with the people, only time will tell.

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Mallikarjun Kharge

Party worker and president, he is the dyed-in-the-wool Congress member from Karnataka who rose through the ranks to take on the reins of the party from Sonia Gandhi in October 2022. Kharge, 81, now faces his sternest test as he steers the Congress, which takes on a formidable BJP and fights an existential battle with the odds heavily stacked against it.

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Mamata Banerjee

Fiery and feisty, the TMC supremo kept the opposition INDIA bloc on tenterhooks over seat-sharing before finally deciding to go solo in West Bengal. Banerjee, 69, has been taking on the BJP strongly and engaging in a duel with the saffron party, which has stepped up its attack on her over the issue of alleged sexual abuse by a TMC strongman in Sandeshkhali.

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Her mantra is to be 'ek la chalo' when it comes to a pre-poll tie-up with opposition parties, but she seems firm on the ideological plank in her opposition to the BJP.

Nitish Kumar

Known for his survival skills to stay on at the helm in Bihar and switching sides with ease, Kumar did another volte-face ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The 73-year-old leader's switching over to the NDA proved to be a major jolt for the INDIA bloc.

His joining hands with the BJP has dramatically altered the dynamics in Bihar and now it will be up to the people to give their judgment on his latest U-turn.

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Sharad Pawar

Embattled and betrayed by his own nephew Ajit Pawar, the 83-year-old Maratha strongman is probably fighting his toughest battle at the fag end of his career. Known for his never-say-die attitude, the shrewd and politically astute 83-year-old could still prove to be a thorn in the flesh for NDA in Maharashtra as he could galvanise the Maha Vikas Aghadi to pose a stiff challenge to the BJP.

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MK Stalin  

The DMK supremo has established his dominance in Tamil Nadu and provided stiff resistance to the BJP's forays in the southern state. Taking along the Left and the Congress, Stalin is expected to provide the much-needed electoral boost from Tamil Nadu to the opposition bloc.

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Stalin, 71, is also a staunch supporter of the Gandhi family but controversial remarks by his party's leaders on the 'Sanatan Dharma' have put the INDIA bloc on the backfoot on several occasions and could hurt them in the north.

Tejashwi Yadav 

The RJD leader has again been thrust into the opposition in Bihar but his stature has gone up within the INDIA bloc. Yadav, 34, has led the opposition bloc in Bihar with gusto and is seen by many as the able heir to his father Lalu Prasad's legacy in Bihar.

Whether he will be able to upset the NDA calculations and arithmetic with the chemistry he has with the people on the ground will be tested in the Lok Sabha polls.

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Asaduddin Owaisi

The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief has often played the 'spoiler' for the opposition bloc in state polls and is dubbed by some leaders as the BJP's B-team. Owaisi, 54, has stood steadfast about his party's right to grow and contest in various parts of the country besides Telangana.

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Will he upset the calculations of the opposition parties or the BJP? Owaisi as always will keep everyone guessing. The result will be out in these polls.  

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Published March 16th, 2024 at 20:41 IST

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