As election-time looms closer for India, BJP has announced Narendra Modi as their candidate for Prime Minister, should the party succeed in the general elections. On the other side, the Congress is yet to confirm its candidate, but it seems that the young scion, Rahul Gandhi will be brought in to oppose the uncompromising Modi.

Mr Gandhi is a relatively untested politician, widely endorsed by the Congress and the current Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. He is also heir apparent to the Gandhi dynasty, and will be following in the footsteps of his famous grandmother, Indira Gandhi and father, Rajiv Gandhi, both having served as Indian Prime Ministers. Although not directly related to Mahatma Gandhi, he is seen by many Indians as a continuation of the line of politics taken by both Gandhi and Nehru, icons of Indian independence.

On the other hand Modi is everything Gandhi is not, blunt, popular and an aggressively vocal advocate of Hindu nationalism. He is seen by many in India as the best choice, not just because of his jingoistic appeal, but also for his popularity in India’s business community. Given his controversial tenure in Gujraat as Chief Minister, and his incendiary comments about minorities, especially Muslim, in the past, the nomination raises questions about the strength of Indian secularism and the security of non-Hindu residents under a potential Modi-led government. In selecting Modi, BJP has nominated a person whose stance on various issues lends itself to a caricature of the very worst perception of the party.

In an interview to an Indian publication, activist Beena Sarwar, very aptly stated that Mr Modi was to be seen as the Indian equivalent of Hafiz Saeed. The only difference lies in the fact that no matter what happens; Hafiz Saeed has no shot of ever being a part of future Pakistani setups. But Mr Modi may well be leading the government of the emerging regional power across the border.

In contrast to Pakistan’s recently witnessed election campaigns, Indian politicians have sought to unite their electorate under a banner of hostility towards Pakistan. Recent events at the LOC have provided well-timed fodder, and the rise of Modi’s fortunes indicates a dangerous trend in attitudes towards Pakistan. With Islamabad reaching out a hand to New Delhi, third-term PM Nawaz Sharif may well be destined to woo yet another BJP premiere.