Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi may pose a challenge to Congress's young scion Rahul Gandhi in India's next parliamentary elections, Time magazine said.
Modi, who figured on the cover page of the latest issues of the Asia edition of the prestigious magazine, which hit the stands yesterday could put up a challenge to Gandhi in particular after the recently held Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, where Congress fared poorly.
"With two years left before the next national election in 2014, Congress hopes its young scion, Sonia's son Rahul, will refresh the party, but a resounding loss in a recent state election makes him look vulnerable," Time said.
"Modi Means Business. But can he lead India?" says the headline on the coverage which has a blown up picture of a serious looking bearded Modi who has ruled Gujarat for more than a decade now.
"Modi, 61, is perhaps the only contender with the track record and name recognition to challenge Rahul Gandhi," says the cover story by Jyoti Thottam, which includes an interview of Modi.
"Many Indians recoil at any mention of a man whose name is indelibly linked to Gujarat's brutality of 2002; choosing him as India's leader would seem a rejection of the country's tradition of political secularism and a sure path to increased tension with Muslim Pakistan, where he is reviled," it says.
"But when others think of someone who can bring India out of the mire of chronic corruption and inefficiency — of a firm, no-nonsense leader who will set the nation on a course of development that might finally put it on par with China — they think of Modi," Time says.
The cover story highlights the achievement of Gujarat under his chief ministership. "What's certain is that during his 10 years in power in Gujarat, the state has become India's most industrialised and business-friendly territory, having largely escaped the land conflicts and petty corruption that often paralyze growth elsewhere in the nation," it said.
"Gujarat's USD 85 billion economy may not be the largest in India, but it has prospered without the benefit of natural resources, fertile farmland, a big population center like Mumbai or a lucrative high-tech hub like Bangalore. Gujarat's success, even Modi's detractors acknowledge, is a result of good planning — exactly what so much of India lacks," the magazine said.