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When did OTL leaders become 'plausible'?

Indicus

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Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India from 1966-1977 and 1980-1984, was discussed as a potential prime minister in 1964 after her father (Jawaharlal Nehru, PM from 1947-1964) died, and she was given various half-hearted offers to become PM; however, she refused as she was still in grief from her father's death. She had, during her father's tenure, served the powers which would be traditionally associated with the first lady in most nations - serving as a secretary of sorts and also accompanying him on various trips - and through this she gained a lot of foreign policy experience which made her a potential PM.

Morarji Desai, a longstanding member of the Indian National Congress who was considered relatively right wing for his social conservatism, attempted to become PM in both 1964 and 1966, but both times he was sidelined by the Congress establishment (known as the Syndicate). During Indira's early tenure as PM, Desai tried multiple time to have her removed from power to make way for him, but he failed. Ironically, Indira tossed both Desai and the Syndicate out of power (the Congress party removed Indira from the party in 1969, but she walked out with most Congress MPs so essentially her faction became the real Congress party) and they later joined up with the opposition. in the 1977 elections, the opposition unified as the Janata Party and won in a landslide (after Indira suspended democracy in the Indian Emergency), and Desai became the first non-Congress PM. But then he failed horribly, due to the Janata Party being a little too much of a big tent and also because he was past his prime. It's entirely plausible, of course, that he would become PM in 1964 or 1966. So in effect, he was a plausible PM for 13 years at least.

V.P. Singh was an interesting guy - he was born into aristocracy (as a child, he was the king of a small princely state), but despite this he joined socialist student politics and later joined the Congress party. For most of his career, he was mostly loyal to the leadership. He became a notable name when, as chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh in the early 1980s, he successfully combated the issue of dacoity, and as a cabinet minister later on, he launched large campaigns against corruption. He was later defence minister, but he broke away from the Congress party in 1987 after revealing the Bofors scandal, of massive corruption dealing with kickback schemes in the purchase of fighter jets, and in the two years between 1987 and 1989 he made himself the leader of the opposition. Running under the slogan Raja nahin fakir hai/desh ki taqdeer hai (He is not a king but a fakir/he is the destiny of the nation), he then became PM in 1989 to 1990, for one very chaotic year in power. He was not a "plausible" PM until 1987, as before that he was just a Congress member, but then suddenly in 1987 he became as such.
 
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Kato

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I'm quite pleased at the quiet revival of this thread, so here's a topical one: Keir Starmer?

Instinctive answer is after the Chicken Coup, and the hollowing out of previous 'future leaders' from the Labour front benches that pushes him to frontrunner/plausible status. That said, in the Nandy-verse we'd all be saying "well obviously it had to be a woman this time".

But I remember him getting disproportionately high coverage for a PPC in 2015, so a "future leader" narrative was being crafted even then - though it also was for a lot of the 2010-2015 intake, given the generational churn of those elections..
 

Comisario

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I'm quite pleased at the quiet revival of this thread, so here's a topical one: Keir Starmer?

Instinctive answer is after the Chicken Coup, and the hollowing out of previous 'future leaders' from the Labour front benches that pushes him to frontrunner/plausible status. That said, in the Nandy-verse we'd all be saying "well obviously it had to be a woman this time".

But I remember him getting disproportionately high coverage for a PPC in 2015, so a "future leader" narrative was being crafted even then - though it also was for a lot of the 2010-2015 intake, given the generational churn of those elections..
Let’s not forget that people were trying desperately to “draft” Starmer as soon as he was an MP.

Beyond being seen as a potential future leader, he was being asked to stand as soon as the speculation began for the race that began as soon as he was elected. Crazy in hindsight but it was part of that frenzy of asking Nandy, Jarvis, etc. to stand.
 

Beata Beatrix

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Venustiano Carranza is really interesting in this category, considering that for most of his career he was a low-ranking Porfirian and certainly not someone with anything like presidential ambitions – I suspect he saw himself as nothing more than a loyal governor of Coahuila, and then a devoted supporter of President Bernardo Reyes, maybe a member of Reyes' cabinet, and Reyes would easily succeed the aging Porfirio Diaz and be the next president... right?

The first rift Carranza had with Diaz, then, was when the old man didn't, for whatever reason, back him for the governorship of Coahuila – we don't really know why? Anyways, that's what Carranza went to the Maderistas, figuring that he had nowhere else to go, especially since Reyes was content to meekly slip into the shadows in 1910 when Porfirio Diaz told him to stop running for the succession. Even still, he wasn't much of anything while Madero was president – it was only when Huerta took power that Carranza finally became a force to be taken seriously.

There were plenty of other liberal leaders and generals, but most of them weren't in the right position (geographically or literally, since they'd been shot) to oppose Huerta's coup. It would have been Madero's close confidant and ally Abraham Gonzalez, the man who inducted Pancho Villa into the revolutionary cause, but he was, like I say, dead. So it was Carranza, a man who no one looked to as a likely leader or as a man to take seriously (no one liked him. No one.) who became Primer Jefe of the Revolution's second stage.

Relatedly, I think Obrégon is a likely future president as soon as he takes Mexico City, but that's only if the Carrancistas actually win, which, of course, they needn't – but they probably will.
 

Kato

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Let’s not forget that people were trying desperately to “draft” Starmer as soon as he was an MP.

Beyond being seen as a potential future leader, he was being asked to stand as soon as the speculation began for the race that began as soon as he was elected. Crazy in hindsight but it was part of that frenzy of asking Nandy, Jarvis, etc. to stand.
The Guardian definitely had a thing for him right from the start, presumably in part because of his previous public role, but also because he is, well, very Guardian.

That article is a wonderful post-Miliband pre-Corbyn time capsule though. Some choice quotes:

[On Keir] "Silence speaks volumes"

"People are demoralised and have been looking for hope in these candidates and not many have found it."

"Lord Myners, who funded Gordon Brown’s leadership campaign. Speaking on LBC radio, Myners suggested he was underwhelmed by the current contenders.

He said: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see other names come forward. I would like to see someone really quite radical." "
 
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