Three men, three forces, three visions.
Recently, as if to aid those of us peering through the Delhi fog to try and discern what 2014 will hold, Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal all tried to make clear, in differing degrees, what their vision of India's future was.
Each man has, of course, a competing social vision. Mr Kejriwal believes in probity above all; in his world, the right people in the right jobs always do the right thing. To his detractors, this is an essentially middle-class vision of politics, an IITian's response to this class' long-standing contempt for Indian politics' careerists and strongmen. (The People's Republic of China is run by engineers, people say, and the dams get built on time.)
Rahul Gandhi, unquestionably, cleaves to the cuddly hypocrisy that has been the Congress' culture since Independence: inept attempts at inclusiveness that conceal cold communitarian calculation - but also the broad, cosmopolitan social liberalism revealed in its stand on Section 377.
Narendra Modi, meanwhile, wrote a blog post recently that made it clear that he intends to run away from his record of exclusionary governance in Gujarat. His legions of acolytes - who multiply daily, gathering to feed on the prospect of power - insist he is not the man he was in 2002, the man who warned after the riots of plots from "Alis, Malis and Jamalis".
But his claims to heartfelt sorrow over 2002 fell well short of an explanation of his attitudes then, or even of an apology for a failure to anticipate or stop rioting. He and his pro-Section 377 party are, in terms of social policy, what they always were.
But it is the three different economic visions that are surely more important, given the times?
Perhaps. But it is intriguing how each overlaps, in a way, with the social vision that they embody.
Text: Mihir S Sharma, Business Standard