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If ever there was a defining year in Indian politics, it has to be the last twelve months. With general elections fast approaching and political fortunes riding a rollercoaster, the dynamics of power in India have undergone a dramatic transformation. Here's one example. In our 2013 power list, Arvind Kejriwal, messianic leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, ranked a lowly 79, below Aamir Khan and Jayanthi Natarajan. In the latest list, he ranks fourth. In 14 months, he launched a new party, won a state election, became chief minister for 49 days, and now aims higher, the Lok Sabha polls with him being projected as a future prime minister. In sharp contrast, we have seen the decline of the Congress and the rise of regional satraps, a development reflected in our 2014 Power List. Three regional leaders, J Jayalalithaa (19 last year), Mamata Banerjee (25 last year) and Mayawati (22 last year), feature in the Top Ten. Then there is the overpowering presence of Narendra Modi and his relentless rise as the only officially declared PM candidate. His personality-based campaign and social media deluge have made him a true game-changer. Power, in the Indian context, has been redefined like never before.
Easily the most significant development of the past year, apart from Kejriwal, has been the power shift created by the dwindling fortunes of the Congress, reflected in a raft of opinion polls. Power, it is said, abhors a vacuum and whoever fills that space will also decide the future of Indian politics and the contours of the next government. The changing power equations do not restrict themselves to politics. Business leaders are also showing a downward slide. India's most powerful corporate tycoon, Mukesh Ambani, has dropped from number 12 last year to 19 this year. That is possibly to do with the global economic crisis and the business environment in India, handicapped by the policy paralysis in the UPA government, as also the many scams that involved businessmen. Indeed, the very fact that 27 individuals on last year's power list have dropped out, ranging from politicians, businessmen, bankers, the judiciary and higher bureaucracy, only reconfirms the changing dynamics of India's power structure. Power is defined simply as the ability to control and/or influence people and resources. This definition can also bring about a negative connotation of the term, depicting power as an unscrupulous concept. Much of Kejriwal's anti-corruption campaign and