Lack of choice mars Indian elections: British media

April 17th, 2009 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party London, April 17 (IANS) The absence of a clear right-Left division in the policies offered by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pose “hard questions” about the quality of India’s democracy, The Times of London said Friday.
“There have been hopes that Indian democracy will settle into two broad coalitions, led by Congress and the BJP, representing a broad Left-Right choice.

“The hopes are premature. In opposition, the BJP has reverted to a narrow sectarian stance, and in power Congress has shown itself weak and indecisive - despite the popularity and probity of Dr (Manmohan) Singh,” the paper said in an editorial.

“They offer no rival visions for India’s place in the world, no competing plans for the economy, no serious differences on social policy. The world’s biggest democracy means little without a clear choice,” it added.

Most British newspapers, which have devoted considerable print and internet space to the Indian elections, are of the opinion India is in for a spell of a succession of ‘weak’ coalition governments.

“A period of horse trading could leave India becalmed or, more worryingly, could herald a succession of weak and short-lived governments like those seen in the 1980s,” The Times said.

The Financial Times, in its provocative Lex opinion column, said, “If the election further diminishes the clout of the two main parties within their respective coalitions, the risk of incoherent policy-making that prolongs the (economic) slowdown will rise.

“Although relatively shielded from the global slowdown by a stunted export sector and repressed banking system, India is already in its second year of below-potential growth. The economy may expand by 4.8 percent in 2009-2010, down from perhaps 6.5 percent last year and an average 9.4 percent over the three prior years.

“The worst case might be a vote ushering in a series of unstable, irresponsible and populist coalitions that trigger capital flight and sovereign downgrades. India famously only reforms in a crisis. It may soon have one,” the paper added.

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