British MPs hail Indian democracy, ‘new age’ for India

May 16th, 2009 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, May 16 (IANS) British politicians Saturday praised India’s democracy, saying the proven wisdom of the Indian electorate had made a mockery of political pundits once again.

“This is just wonderful,” said Barry Gardiner, an MP belonging to the ruling Labour Party and a former minister.

“India’s democracy is, quite simply, the greatest expression of Common Will that we have on the planet. Time after time after time, the Indian electorate has astounded us and proved us wrong.

“But it really shouldn’t surprise us any longer - because India is not only the world’s largest democracy, but also one of the world’s most mature,” Gardiner told IANS.

In the run-up to the elections, many British MPs were convinced - along with most Indian experts - that the electorate would return a fractured parliament and feared India was in for a prolonged spell of instability.

“This is an election that no one could call. And every pundit has been confounded - no one had the faintest idea,” said Stephen Pound, chairman of Labour Friends of India, a parliamentary lobby group.

“It shows that one thing you can never do is count on people to deliver what the experts say they will deliver. This almost makes me believe Labour can win the next election in Britain,” Pound added.

India under the leadership of the Congress Party is now well-placed to engage the world while simultaneously improving the lives of people at home, two Indian-origin MPs of Britain’s ruling party said.

“It’s a new age for India,” said Keith Vaz, Britain’s senior Indian-origin MP, who represents Leicester East, a constituency known as Little India for its large numbers of people from India.

“Now is the time for India to take leadership on the world stage. There are so many conflicts around the world that desperately need India’s urgent engagement.

“India needs to reach out and be on the top table along with America, Russia and the UK,” the MP told IANS, pointing out that the Labour Party is the sister party of the Congress.

Vaz said he hoped Congress would be able to capture enough seats to enable it to implement “all the economic reforms programmes that were begun by (the late prime minster) Rajiv Gandhi, and which it hasn’t been able to do because of pressures.”

Vaz’s colleague Virender Sharma, whose Southall constituency is possibly the best-known Indian diaspora neighbourhood in the West, said the vote for Congress was primarily an endorsement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s clean image.

“It is also the people’s rejection of divisive forces and signals they want to move India simultaneously towards both secular unity and national unity,” said Sharma.

“This strong victory will give Congress the encouragement to work hard in the constituencies.

“They just have to work together and give younger members positions of responsibility.”

Sharma said the people of India had also voted for “eliminating poverty, helping farmers and bringing the basic necessities to the ordinary person.”

“That was the message from Congress, and the people of India have trusted that.”

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