The obvious choice as prime minister should the NDA return to power. So far, the strongest prime ministerial hopeful.
Transformed into a leader of some standing, despite being written off by critics and sympathisers alike as a liability. Should the Congress combination win, she could ride out all contentious issues.
Mulayam Singh Yadav
Hoping to fork out a coalition of non-BJP, non-Congress MPs with outside support of whoever can give it. At best, a tight-rope walk for him.
Missed his ‘historic’ opportunity after the 1996 elections. Despite that, the venerable leader is the only one who commands the respect of faction-ridden and squabbling Third Front MPs. Even the most virulent regional leader would agree to Basu’s candidature.
The dark horse. A good result in Maharashtra puts him seriously in the reckoning, with the backing of his old comrades in the Congress. Has built bridges with Sonia after dropping the foreigner issue.
Became a powerful regional leader when the phrase was not even in vogue. If he registers an impressive win in Tamil Nadu, this could be his chance. Like Basu, he could emerge as the consensus leader.