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Our election,their opinions

India now commands great weight in the world,but it must stay clear of populist politics,warns the Telegraph.

Written by The Indian Express |
May 16, 2009 1:27:57 am

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India now commands great weight in the world,but it must stay clear of populist politics,warns the Telegraph. Citing Mayawati and Varun Gandhi,it advised India against an increasingly nationalist tenor in policy and rhetoric,and hoped that the new regime in India could manage a policy of mature accommodation with Pakistan.  The big question,according to The Toronto Star,is whether ‘the unapologetically Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party can make a comeback’. It touches on the Rath Yatra,the Mumbai riots (via Slumdog) and Varun Gandhi,and asserts that ‘the BJP-led coalition should be winning this election,given the country’s economic woes,especially huge job losses and the real estate crash. If it doesn’t,we’ll know why’. Meanwhile,Rhys Blakely in The London Times claims that three women hold the key — Mayawati,Mamata Banerjee and “Jayalalithaa Jayaram,a former Bollywood singer who leads the opposition state government in Tamil Nadu”.

What the neighbours think

Dawn commented on the Kashmir vote,claiming that many prominent separatist leaders,who argue that participating in the election legitimises Indian rule,have been placed under house arrest. It reported that many Kashmiri students refused to vote despite complete security —’New Delhi has been ruling us for years. There has been no difference in the curfews,custodial deaths,the army’s human rights violations’. Meanwhile,a column in The Nation said that in spite of many weaknesses in the Indian political method,the answers to what makes India politically stable and economically advanced lies in its uninterrupted political process,one that is virtually unique in the neighbourhood. China’s CCTV says that this general election was considered the fiercest competition among parties since India’s Independence Day,and added that a wobbly coalition would leave little room for maneuver on the economy.

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Don’t look Left

Forbes runs a piece on India’s remarkably silent vote,noting that the business community is rooting for the either the BJP or Congress,either being preferable to a ‘ramshackle Third Front’. Neither big party is likely to follow a markedly different approach to the economy,it observed,but the Left would be a definite drag.

Bloomberg also concentrated on the need to keep the Communists out,for India’s economic profile to remain high. It quoted Kamal Nath,buoyed by exit polls granting the Congress a slim lead,claiming ‘we can form the government without the Left’ and citing their ‘ideological baggage’,though he stressed that the Congress would negotiate with them if the numbers make it necessary.

Big election,small ideas

A New York Times piece comments on the lack of issues in this election — that the only language politicians understand is ‘the language of whether the ABC will merge with the XYZ to form the EIEIO’. Time also notes that for all the impressiveness of its scale,India’s election was strikingly bereft of ideas — “the incumbent centrist Congress Party promises good governance,help for the poor and strong leadership. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party offers much of the same,albeit with a Hindu nationalist flavour that it tones up or down with the political winds’.

The boldface names

Time introduces the five big gamechangers — Mayawati,Buddhadeb Bhattacharya,Narendra Modi Chandrababu Naidu,and Jayalalithaa. Other vivid figures for the foreign press were megastar Chiranjeevi,and Mallika Sarabhai. Le Monde and The Washington Post profiled Sarabhai,with her harmonium bindi,her ‘Apple laptop and her ragtag team of social activists,students,artists and Gandhi enthusiasts’.

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