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Alliances not leaders will decide 2014 Indian elections February 19, 2014

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Arun R. Swamy

Political posturing in India has not changed since 1999, when there was a fascist party posing as a conservative one, and a royalist party posing as a liberal one. The posturing continues, but since then the Indian National Congress (INC) party has embraced coalition politics. And it may now be in a stronger position to attract allies than its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

INC president Sonia Gandhi’s recent decision not to publicly project a prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming elections has met with disappointment in the party and derision outside. But Gandhi may be shrewder than her colleagues. With the two largest parties typically receiving only a little more than half the votes, the decisive contest between them is for the support of regional parties, not voters. In that contest the INC continues to have an edge — and publicly committing to a prime ministerial candidate would hinder their efforts.


India, the ‘New Asia’ and the American presidential elections September 26, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Stoddart, Brian , comments closed

Brian Stoddart

Any American presidential election reverberates around global policy corners but, for India, the 2012 contest carries unusual significance. With its economy slowing, national government under severe pressure, and competition with China over ‘new Asian power’ status sharpening, India has a strong stake in the November result. Superficially, India could be contented. A late 2011 Congressional Research Service report shows two-way trade totalling approximately $US50 billion.

The US is India’s largest direct investment partner at over $16 billion, and one of its largest trading partners. As India’s economic growth flourished, American interest and investment soared. The highpoint was America’s 2008-9 agreement on nuclear development and trade – as for Australia a few years later, that was the cost of doing business with India.

Obama met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009 in what was seen as a further sign of a strong emerging relationship between the two countries. EPA/Shawn Thew


Telangana – the UPA’s next trial? October 24, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Stoddart, Brian , comments closed

Brian Stoddart

With next week being Diwali the beleaguered UPA is fast approaching another self-imposed deadline, and there is every likelihood that soon after the festival Manmohan Singh and his colleagues will announce the creation of Telangana.  That will dismember Andhra Pradesh, India’s first linguistically-based state, and strike hard at the concept of states being based around language that has driven policy ever since 1953.

The present crisis began late in 2009 with Home Minister Chidambaram’s apparently accidental comment that the Centre would, indeed, countenance the creation of Telangana.  Celebrations and recriminations were about mixed, and the issue has dogged the government ever since.  It sent in Justice Krishna to write a report on the issue.  He raised several options but made no recommendations, and had one chapter sealed which alarmed many in both the “for” and “against” camps.  More recently Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister and troubleshooter was placed in charge of Andhra Pradesh and called for more talks, a recommendation dismissed immediately by all sides.  The Government looks like it has let matters drift to this point so that the decision to create Telangana is now treated almost as a given, even though it would contain several problems for the Centre.

The districts subject to the Telangana claim, which includes the city of Hyderabad