The Great Debate (India)
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the biggest ally in Manmohan Singh’s UPA government, pulled out of the ruling coalition on Tuesday, escalating a political firestorm over big-ticket reform measures launched last week.
Exit polls show the Samajwadi Party winning by far the largest number of seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly. This would almost certainly mean a return to power for Mulayam Singh Yadav and the ouster of Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati as the chief minister.
Rahul Gandhi had staked his political future on reviving the Congress party in a state where it has not held power for 22 years. But elections have proven notoriously hard to predict in the past, and Congress officials are defiantly upbeat about the party’s chances despite the surveys.
Rahul Gandhi is set to become the next Congress party chief within a few weeks, The Economic Times reported on Saturday. The report said several party leaders, including a cabinet minister, had confirmed the handover is likely in “four to eight weeks”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh retained key allies in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday in a bid to help him fight accusations of corruption and policy paralysis, choosing instead to focus on gaining support ahead of state elections next year.
Key ministers were retained while Jairam Ramesh was moved to the rural development ministry from environment.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) put off its plan to resign ministerial posts until Tuesday, offering respite to the Congress-led government fighting to win back public trust after a raft of corruption scandals.
The DMK, which gives Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition vital support in parliament, had said its six ministers would quit the coalition on Monday because of a row over seats to be contested in the Tamil Nadu election next month.
The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the appointment of the central vigilance commissioner (CVC) for involvement in a palmolein import case, in another rebuke for the Congress-led coalition government.
The rejection of P.J. Thomas’s appointment as CVC comes as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government is trying to defend itself against a series of graft scandals including a $39 billion telecoms licensing scam.
The task before the finance minister is tricky as the Congress-led government gears up to present the annual budget for 2009-10 on July 6.
Reuters India asks its readers to don the FM’s cap and tell us what shape they would give to the budget to keep a country of over 1 billion people happy.
Prime Minister-elect Manmohan Singh has said he will try and persuade Rahul Gandhi, heir apparent to the Congress party, to take on a cabinet position in the new government.
Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great grandfather were all prime ministers, had become the most visible campaigner of Congress in the month-long election to win over Indian youth as well as millions of poor villagers.
from India Insight:
With the wrangling for allies in earnest ahead of election results due Saturday, women leaders hold an inordinate amount of power in deciding who will form the new Indian government.
Women leaders have always had a role in the rough and tumble of Indian politics, from Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant in the independence struggle to Indira Gandhi, the second woman in the world to become prime minister.
With just hours to go before the counting of votes, several exit polls have shown that India’s ruling Congress-led coalition is slightly ahead of the BJP-led alliance.
The probable lack of a clear winner has stoked concerns that the coalition that emerges after a month of elections may be unstable.