The business community of Gujarat and supporters of chief minister Narendra Modi were not impressed with BJP's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani in 2009 and expected Manmohan Singh to continue in the post, the United States authorities assessed.
According to the confidential diplomatic cable sent by the US Consulate at Mumbai during the 2009 general elections, now made public by the WikiLeaks, Modi supporters felt that Advani had failed to generate any enthusiasm.
"LK Advani, the BJP leader, is expected to win his seat from Gandhinagar, albeit with a lower margin. Interlocutors had a low opinion of Advani, and contacts in the conservative business community — all Modi supporters — expressed hope that Manmohan Singh would continue as the Prime Minister…," stated cable sent on May 4, 2009.
"While campaigning in Gandhinagar, Advani has tried to raise the issue of black money. This campaign focus reportedly disappointed the residents, who hoped he would talk about local, instead of national issues."
Several analysts, media contacts and Modi supporters, whom the US officials spoke to, referred to the 2009 election as a "semi-final, with the final as a showdown between the presumed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Modi for prime ministership, perhaps as soon as the next mid-term elections or in 2014."
The US consulate noted that charismatic Modi faced no serious challenge in Gujarat, "but to prove that he can reach out to minority communities especially Muslims if he expects to rise from being a strong regional leader to a national one."
"Good governance and stronger anti-terror rhetoric has proven to be a heady attraction for the majority in Gujarat, but his appeal beyond the conservative and entrepreneurial Gujaratis is still untested," the confidential cable stated.
The American diplomats were also surprised at the reluctance of the Congress to raise the 2002 riots during the last general elections.