The Significance of India’s Election

Deepak Tripathi

(ZNet, May 23, 2009)

The results of the month-long general election in India are noteworthy in several respects. The political shift they represent and their possible effects for the domestic and foreign policies of one of the leading emerging powers in the world will be analyzed over the coming days and months. Here, it is worth looking at some notable aspects to emerge and what they mean. For they will be indicators of the likely conduct of India and what to expect from the country in the next few years.

The United Progressive Alliance, led by the Congress Party, has retained power. Its performance has defied many predictions. With over two-hundred seats won by Congress alone, the alliance finished up just short of an absolute majority in the 543 contested seats for the lower house of parliament. Such a performance is enough to attract support from smaller parties. The governing alliance should have a safe passage through the next five years.

The Congress leadership will be relieved for two other reasons. First, the governing coalition will not have to depend on the Marxists as had been the case in the last parliament. Second, the Marxists themselves have suffered heavy reverses this time and their strength is much diminished. To a considerable degree, this outcome is of their own making. They turned on themselves as the 2009 election approached. Their gamble to confront the governing alliance over India’s relations with the West and over economic policy failed. More

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