Thursday, May 14, 2009


India’s month long General Elections, which will decide the political framework of the next government, is turning out to be a three-way contest.

The tussle for power used to be bi-polar one between the two largest national political alliances, the Indian National Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Now this has turned to be three-way one with a Third Front, comprising of the Communist Parties and smaller regional parties, presenting another alternative. An emerging power broker is likely to be the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), representing low-caste interests, that runs the state government in India’s largest province Uttar Pradesh. It is likely to win significant seats.

The Communist Parties emerged as a prominent force following their intense opposition to the Indo-U.S. Civil Nuclear Agreement that threatened the survival of India’s ruling coalition government of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) last year.

This three way contest, however, has a bi-polar implication. On the one hand, the UPA and the NDA alliances have the experience of successfully running a National Government that propelled India to grow its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) more than 9% in recent years. On the other hand, the inexperienced Third Front has never been able to provide a stable government having only ever been in power for less than half of any full five-year term. Moreover, they are likely to be less inclined to open up India’s economy that has been turbo-charged over the past decade. Election results are due to be announced on May 16th.
Both the Congress and BJP led governments have successfully accelerated India’s GDP growth rate to about 7% today from 1.4% in 1991-92. This momentum peaked at 9.7% in the fiscal year 2006-07 before slowing down on account of the worldwide recession.

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