New Delhi: If Gujarat has two prime ministerial aspirants, Uttar Pradesh has four so far and a dark horse could emerge from Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra.
The race for PM candidate could gain momentum after May 8 at a time when no single party claiming to have charismatic leaders is willing to fight all the Lok Sabha seats on its own.
The Congress is confident of the UPA 3 while the BJP expects a wave in favour of Narendra Modi even as regional players want to check them in a bid to gain space at the national level.
After Moraraji Desai, Gujarat has been failing to get the top post despite being the first laboratory of the Janata government during Emergency, which the Congress had described as the ‘khichdi sarkar’.
Gujarat has given three deputy prime ministers - Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai and L.K. Advani. But this time Chief Minister Narendra Modi and BJP veteran L.K. Advani are emerging as strong claimants for the PM’s post in their party from Gujarat.
In Uttar Pradesh, at least three leaders - Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati - have already emerged as the PM candidates even as BJP chief Rajnath Singh is not out of the race and could stake the claim if the party emerges number in UP.
The Congress will fight the electoral battle under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. The party may not be in good shape in UP but its pan-India appeal, youth card, Nehru-Gandhi family’s charisma and track record of giving stable government at the Centre could attract people.
For the BJP, Modi may be an asset but he is a liability for its current and prospective allies. But party insiders are claiming that the BJP would get over 200 Lok Sabha seats on its own under Modi’s leadership.
However, the claim is not convincing as BJP does not exist in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Kerala, Odisha and has been a minor player in Assam, Maharashtra and UP. In such a scenario, leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj (MP), finance minister P. Chidambaram (TN) or NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Maharashtra) could emerge as the dark horse, sources said.