Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

B. Raman, "India: Elections and after," Chennai Centre for China Studies, May 16, 2009.

[No doubt many will find something to disagree with here; however, Raman's analysis of the Indian election touches on a broad range of issues and provides a brief introduction to the political scene in India today. -jlt]

While the official results in the elections to the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Indian Parliament, are yet to be announced, it is clear that the Congress (I) has not only retained its position as the largest single party, but has even improved its position as compared to the results of the 2004 elections by about 50 seats. The parties, which belonged to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), as the coalition led by it is known, are well set to have a near absolute majority— more than 50 per cent of the total seats— if not an absolute majority. This should enable the Congress to form a coalition Government headed by Dr.Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister once again for five years. There is likely to be greater ideological cohesion in the new Coalition and this should enable the new Government to give a fresh momentum to the implementation of much-needed economic reforms. Under the departing Government, also led by Manmohan Singh, the lack of an ideological cohesion stood in the way of such implementation.

2. There has to be a caveat here. The Trinamool Congress (TC) of Ms.Mamta Banerjee, which has a won a remarkable victory in West Bengal and which will be an important member of the new coalition, has its own retrograde baggage in economic matters— such as its unrelenting opposition to special economic zones and its allergy to corporate houses. This baggage might come in the way of the needed economic reforms if the Prime Minister and Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress (I), are unable to persuade her to bury her economic baggage.

  How to meet the expectations of the corporate world without sacrificing the interests of the common man? How to meet the expectations of the common man without sacrificing the needs of the corporate world?

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