Elections are reactions, often negative reactions. That is surely the explanation for the breathtaking rise of Narendra Modi, who — if the opinion polls are accurate — is poised to become India’s next Prime Minister, and thus the world leader chosen by the largest electorate on the planet. India is currently ruled by Manmohan Singh, a mild-mannered 81-year-old technocrat with no political power of his own and a passive leadership style. Reverse every one of those traits and you have Modi, the charismatic, intense, utterly decisive head of Gujarat, one of India’s fastest-growing states. Most Indians believe that their country has lost its way as its growth rate has been almost halved while inflation has soared. Modi has a reputation for quick action, encouraging the private sector, and good governance. He also has a reputation for autocratic rule and a dark Hindu-nationalist streak. But those concerns are waning in a country desperate for change.
Zakaria is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS