ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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As India Goes to the Polls

The political landscape in India today is truly depressing, but all is not lost.

Outwardly they exude confidence – the Congress Party’s campaign tune Jai Ho from the Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire boldly asserts, almost biblically in translation, “Let there be victory”, while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) self-assured Kushal Neta, Nirnayak Sarkaar (Able leader, Decisive government) projects L K Advani’s presumed image of aplomb. But beneath this veneer, there is a sense of unease bordering on nervousness among the main political parties in the run-up to the general elections, which perhaps stems from the unpredictable and shifting character of coalition politics in this fissured land. The global economic and financial crisis has severely jolted the Indian economy, adding to the prevailing gloom on the political landscape. But more importantly, slowly but steadily, the pervasive political opportunism and the sordid state of affairs in the political realm seem to have brought on popular disaffection and public cynicism of an order not witnessed before. Given that the electoral outcome is highly uncertain, the Congress Party, the BJP, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]-led left parties, have been or will be (postelections) vying to draw in the various regional and caste-based parties into their respective coalitions, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Third Front, respectively.

The Congress has been, it seems, caught between two stools in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar. On the one hand, there is the imperative of retaining power at the centre, and on the other, it wants to (and, out of touch with reality, thinks it can) rebuild its moribund organisation in these two important states. Chasing this mirage, it has refused to be relegated to a minor player by its prospective electoral allies, the Samajwadi Party in UP, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in Bihar.

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