Full name: Lal Krishna Advani
The gist: Advani is the current leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the NDA’s official prime ministerial candidate for the 2009 elections.
Title: Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha
Constituency: Gandhinagar, Gujarat
Party: Bharatiya Janata Party
Date and place of birth: 8 November 1927; Karachi
Profession: Journalist, trade unionist, diplomat
Education: Educated at St. Patricks High School, Karachi; D.G. National College, Hyderabad, Sindh (now in Pakistan) and Government Law College, Mumbai
Resume: Advani’s political career began as a member of the RSS in the early 1940s. He became a leader and eventually president of the newly formed BJP in the 1980s, and is credited with helping to make the party a formidable force in Indian politics. Advani was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1970, and re-elected three times. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989 and re-elected four times. He became leader of the opposition after the 2004 general election.
Personal: Advani is married to Kamla Advani with one son and one daughter.
Hobbies: Books, theatre, cinema, sports and music
The gist: Manmohan Singh is the 17th and current prime minister of India, and the first Sikh to hold the position. Singh was named to the post after the INC won a majority in the Lok Sabha after the 2004 general elections.
Title: Prime Minister of India; Union Minister for Finance
Party: Indian National Congress
Date and place of birth: 26 September, 1932; Village Gah (West Punjab)
Profession: Economist, politician
Education: Stood first in BA (Hons), Economics, Panjab University, Chandigarh, 1952; stood first in MA (Economics), Panjab University, Chandigarh, 1954; Wright’s Prize for distinguished performance at St John’s College, Cambridge, 1955 and 1957; Wrenbury scholar, University of Cambridge, 1957; DPhil (Oxford), DLitt (Honoris Causa); PhD thesis on India’s export competitiveness.
Resume: At the start of his career, Singh was a professor at Panjab University and the Delhi School of Economics. In 1971, Dr. Singh joined the Government of India as economic advisor in the Commerce Ministry. He became chief economic advisor in the Ministry of Finance in 1972. Other positions he has held include secretary in the Ministry of Finance; Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission; Governor of the Reserve Bank of India; Advisor of the Prime Minister; and Chairman of the University Grants Commission. Dr. Singh has been a Member of India’s Upper House of Parliament (the Rajya Sabha) since 1991. He was Leader of the Opposition between 1998 and 2004.
Personal: Dr. Singh and his wife Mrs. Gursharan Kaur have three daughters, the youngest of whom is an attorney for the ACLU in New York.
Hobbies: Reading and writing
Full name: Kumari Mayawati
The gist: Mayawati is serving her fourth term as leader of the largest state in the country and is president of the Bahujan Samaj Party, which was created to represent those at the bottom of the caste system.
Title: Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh
Party: Bahujan Samaj Party
Date and place of birth: 15 January, 1956; Delhi
Profession: Politician, social worker, lawyer
Education: B.A., B.Ed., LL.B., education at Kalindi College, University of Delhi (Delhi) and University of Meerut (Uttar Pradesh)
Resume: Mayawati was a teacher in Delhi prior to her entry into politics in the early 1980s. She has been a part of BSP from its inception in 1984. She won her first seat in the Lok Sabha in 1989 and was re-elected three times. She was elected twice to the Rajya Sabha, in 1994 and 2004. She served three stints as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1995, 1997 and 2002-03 before being sworn in to her fourth term in May 2007.
Personal: Mayawati is not married.
Hobbies: Reading, gardening, urban development, planning and labour welfare.
Full name: Sharad Chandra Govindrao Pawar
The gist: Pawar is president of the Nationalist Congress Party, which he co-founded in 1999 after a split from Congress. A minister in the UPA-led government, Pawar is a leader in Maharashtra politics.
Title: Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Consumer Affairs: Food & Public Distribution, Government of India
Constituency: Baramati, Maharashtra
Party: Nationalist Congress Party
Date and place of birth: 12 December 1940; Baramati, Dist. Pune (Maharashtra)
Profession: Agriculturalist, politician
Resume: Pawar entered into politics in his twenties and became a Congress Party MLA in the Maharashtra legislative assembly in 1967. He has served four terms as chief minister of Maharasthra, and six terms as a Lok Sabha MP. His relationship with Congress has been fickle; he broke with the party in 1999 to co-found the Nationalist Congress Party. He is currently the party’s president and a cabinet member in the UPA-led ruling government.
Personal: Pawar is married to Pratibha Pawar with one daughter, Supriya Sule, who is an MP in the Rajya Sabha.
Hobbies: Reading and traveling
Full name: Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda
The gist: Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda leads the Janata Dal (Secular) party and the Left Front coalition, a group of parties that are unaligned with the NDA and UPA coalitions.
Title: Leader of the Janata Dal (Secular) party; 14th Prime Minister of India
Party: Janata Dal (Secular)
Date and place of birth: 18 May, 1933; Haradanahalli village of Holenarasipura Taluk, Hassan District (Karnataka)
Education: Degree in civil engineering
Resume: Gowda joined the Congress Party in 1953 and was a member until 1962. He won his first seat as an independent in the Karnataka assembly in 1962, was re-elected to three more consecutive terms and rose through the ranks to become chief minister of Karnataka in 1994. He left this post to become Prime Minister of India from June 1996 to April 1997 under the United Front coalition-led government. Gowda is president of the Janata Dal (Secular) party and leader of the Third Front coalition.
Personal: Gowda is married to Chennamma and is the father of two daughters and four sons.