The smaller national and state parties of India may not have the clout to win by a majority like the BJP, or have a prime ministerial candidate in their midst. But there are charismatic politicians who challenge the ethos of both the BJP and INC.
Uttar Pradesh is the largest state in the country and therefore occupies 80 seats in the Lok Sabha. In this state, two former rivals have become allies to give the BJP a run for its money. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is led by the charismatic 63-year old Dalit leader Mayawati and the state-level Samajwadi Party (SP) is led by 40-year old Akhilesh Yadav. Even if controversy surrounds Mayawati, she is well-loved. Both politicians have been chief ministers of the state and focus on social change for the bahujans—Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, religious minorities and Other Backward Classes.
In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is a force to be reckoned with. She started her own party, the All India Trinamool Congress in 1998 and in 2011, her party won the elections, ousting the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which had been in power in West Bengal for over thirty years.
In the south of India, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) entirely dominate the state of Tamil Nadu, led by its chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. K. Chandrashekar Rao is the face of Telangana, the new state that was carved out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. He heads the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and is the new state’s chief minister. He has avoided an alliance with either the BJP or the INC and has the ability to have considerable political influence in the Lok Sabha and the state itself.