When Narendra Damodardas Modi was anointed the Bharatiya Janata Party's, or BJP's, prime-ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections, it didn't surprise many. The resistance put up by Lal Krishna Advani was too feeble to halt the Modi juggernaut.
If businessmen had their way, Modi, 63, would have become prime minister long time ago.
Telecom czar Sunil Mittal had found him fit for the job way back in January 2009: "He is running a state and can also run the nation." In January this year, Anil Ambani had called Modi "lord of men, leader amongst leaders and king amongst kings", while Anand Mahindra has prophesied the day is not far when "people will talk about the Gujarat model of growth in China".
Even before he became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001, Dhirubhai Ambani had said of Modi after meeting him: "Lambi race no ghodo chhe (He will go a long way)."
A recent survey of 100 chief executives conducted by Nielsen for The Economic Times said 80 per cent want Modi to become prime minister.
Unfortunately for Modi, their numbers are too insignificant to influence the elections. The battle for New Delhi will be fought far away from air-conditioned boardrooms, in the dust and heat of Indian villages.
But one thing is certain: Modi has businessmen dancing to his tune.
Not for nothing did Manish Tewari, minister for information and broadcasting, say in January this year: "In the 1930s, the German corporate sector had a similar fascination with a gentleman who was at the helm of affairs there."
Text: Surajeet Das Gupta, Sohini Das & Dev Chatterjee