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The message from India

Most reports in the international press stressed that the Congress’s emphatic victory was a vote for stability and political continuity.

Written by The Indian Express |
May 18, 2009 12:26:29 am

Thumping mandate

Most reports in the international press stressed that the Congress’s emphatic victory was a vote for stability and political continuity. “After 20 years of the once-dominant Congress Party being challenged by the ascendance of small identity-based parties,these elections suggested something of a course correction,” said The New York Times.

Man of the moment

The New Republic calls the results heartening,because Manmohan Singh “has proved a relatively competent and sensible leader”. “What’s more,the party he leads has long been under the control of the Nehru dynasty…while it appears that Rahul will one day take over,it is good (for both party and country) that the technocratic figure of Singh is showing some signs of political life.”

A report in Singapore’s The Strait Times says,“The 76-year-old PM may lack the charisma of his predecessor,Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee,but Indian voters clearly trust him and have high regard for him… there is no question that Dr Singh is widely popular in India and has become a key influence pole within Congress in his own right”.

Rah-rah for Rahul

“The stage is set for Rahul Gandhi to become India’s prime minister within the next few years”,claimed The London Times. “The dynamic,youthful image of Rahul,the son and grandson of former prime ministers Rajiv and Indira,was marketed by Congress to appeal to India’s 43m first-time voters. It was pitched to complement the reputation of Singh,the 76-year-old British-educated economist who is known as a safe pair of hands,” it announced.

Talking of his future plans,The New York Times said “renouncing personal power is a powerful political gesture in India,and the Nehru-Gandhi family has used it deftly. Five years ago,when Congress won a surprise victory,Sonia Gandhi renounced the prime minister’s post,bequeathing it to the professorial Mr. Singh. On Saturday,Mrs. Gandhi insisted that the top job should remain with Mr. Singh,rather than go to her son.With a knowing smile,Mr. Singh told reporters that he would continue to try to persuade Mr. Gandhi to join his cabinet.”

No Left,no Right

“Indian voters choose middle path,” says Pakistan’s Dawn —”Saturday’s verdict has clipped the left and the right wings of India’s political spectrum. It marks a welcome irony for a country that is surrounded by so much turbulence caused mainly by left and rightwing insurgencies. Dr Singh’s second term is both a challenge and an opportunity for him,for India and for the region”. A piece in The News says that “while Narendra Modi and Varun Gandhi’s brand of politics may have paid dividends locally,but it failed to do so at the national level,rather it backfired.”

What’s in it for US

The Wall Street Journal noted that Singh’s re-election “is likely to be welcomed by the new administration in the White House. He has been a big driver of improved relations between the US and India after decades of mutual suspicion. The New York Times also said that the “Congress Party’s showing vindicates the prime minister’s efforts to deepen a strategic partnership with the United States at a time when the Obama administration is deeply concerned about security in the region”.

Full-throttle on the economy

A weaker Left could mean more economic revamping for India,said The Wall Street Journal. “(Manmohan Singh’s) victory is a global one. Across the world,30 million members of the Indian diaspora have largely come to see Mr. Singh as their symbol of a new India”,said the Journal. “Singh will return to his offices at a time when India’s economy,along with the rest of the world,is struggling to regain momentum. India’s economy could grow as much as 6% this financial year,down sharply from the searing-hot 9 and 10% quarterly growth figures that has made this country of a 1.1 billion people a destination for foreign investment and its 300 million-strong middle class a coveted goal for the world’s manufacturers”,wrote Businessweek.

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