Take a simple example. The BJP, which is on a route to revival after losing two consecutive national polls, declared Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate on September 13 last year despite a number of challenges thrown from both within the party and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Congress decided almost four months since then that Manmohan Singh would not be its prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha polls.
So, while the BJP decided who is going to be its face in the big battle, the Congress took a delayed call on who is not going to be its poster boy. The comparison somehow reflects the prevailing condition in the two camps.
While Modi is being shown as Vajpayee's successor, MMS is delinked from Rahul
There is another striking difference between the conduct of the two parties. While the BJP is giving it all to project Modi as the best successor to its only prime minister till date Atal Bihari Vajpayee and is promising to the people that Modi will do wonders as the PM just like what vajpayee had done during his six years in office, the Congress is desperately trying to delink Manmohan Singh from Rahul Gandhi, who is most likely to lead it in the mission for a UPA III government.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement at a press meet on Friday that he is not in the run for a third term and his showering praises on Rahul Gandhi suggested one thing clearly and that is: The Congress is going to project Rahul Gandhi as a fresh leader who is not going to bear any responsibility for the failure of the UPA regime over the last one decade. It wants Manmohan look like Rahul's predecessor instead of the latter being the former's successor. Is it less than a disaster for both Singh and the Congress?
The Congress now has to officially announce its prime ministerial candidate's name, something which it is not known for doing traditionally. A Gandhi is an automatic choice to become a Congress prime minister but only because of Narendra Modi's quick rise as an alternative leader that the Congress might have to break the tradition this time to keep up with the pressure.
No matter what the outgoing prime minister says about Modi, there is no denying that the 'disaster' called Modi will be a massive challenge for Rahul Gandhi, whom Singh described a man with 'oustanding credentials'.