‘US must work to keep up good ties with India after polls’

April 16th, 2009 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 16 (IANS) In the emerging post-poll scenario in India, the United States must work to make sure good relations with New Delhi are not paralysed by bureaucratic infighting in the Indian parliament, suggests a former US official.

The United States has had good relations with the past two Indian governments, run by opposing coalitions, but the emergence of “a large unwieldy coalition government” poses a challenge to Washington, says Evan A. Feigenbaum, former deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia.

Noting that Indian politics, once dominated by the Congress Party, is now increasingly dominated by small and regional parties, he said: “This change is forcing the major parties to form broad coalitions, which in turn makes the formation of national programmes more difficult.”

“The challenges from an American perspective are partly bureaucratic and partly intellectual,” Feigenbaum, now Senior Fellow for East, Central, and South Asia at Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview with the Washington think tank’s website, CFR.org.

“India is a democracy, so India will elect a government that India selects,” he said but “the bureaucratic challenge from an American perspective is whether you get an Indian government that’s able to act decisively on issues that are at the centre of US-India relations.”

“The bureaucratic challenge is whether you have a government that’s so inwardly focused on the coalition politics that it becomes difficult to move big ideas and big policies through the Indian system,” he said citing the process of economic reform and follow-up steps on the US-India civil nuclear agreement as examples.

“The intellectual challenge is the orientation of the new Indian government,” he said noting there’s a bipartisan consensus in India between the Congress Party leading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leading the National Democratic Alliancearound a strong India-US relationship,

“What would be interesting is if the Third Front, this third bloc, were to come into power in either a minority government or in some other form, or if the UPA comes back with support from the left parties,” Feigenbaum said recalling the Left’s opposition to the US-India nuclear agreement and its scepticism about the US-India relationship.

“So depending on what kind of government emerges, we’ll face both bureaucratic and intellectual challenges.”

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