India Insight

Out of the DMK frying pan and into Mamata’s fire for Congress

March 9, 2011

Fresh from negotiating the continued support of one key coalition ally, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party heavyweights must now tackle the demands of the more politically canny and locally powerful Mamata Banerjee.

State polls: Congress win or opposition loss?

October 23, 2009

The ruling Congress party-led alliance has won state polls in Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh and is set to form the government in Haryana.

Dynasty in Politics: How much is too much?

September 25, 2009

At a recent family gathering, a cousin of mine expressed her desire to be a doctor. Not surprising, considering her parents are both in the same profession, and run a prominent hospital. It seems only natural that she will take the baton forward.

After wooing voters, Mamata charms Bengal Inc

September 2, 2009

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee rolls on with a bagful of bounty for one and all in West Bengal, even as the state’s corporate big wheels close ranks with her.Her eyes all set on the 2011 assembly elections, Banerjee shed the image of an anti-industry politician, using to the hilt the resources the world’s largest employer (Indian Railways) could offer.The industry-basher epithet stuck thick on Mamata after Tata Motors made an angry exit from Singur last year, bowing before a wave of protests over 400 acres of farmland acquired forcibly by the communist state government for the Nano plant.Just when a section of people and political pundits had written her off, Mamata’s gamble with the land movement and the state’s poor human rights record paid off.Now in a hurry to catch the 2011 train, Mamata (referred to in local media as chief minister-in-waiting) has impressed industrialists with her impatience to fast-track projects in West Bengal.She is now offering land to set up factories, emphasizing on setting up Public Private Partnership (PPP) models to develop the infrastructure of railway and industry.”Mamata means business” wrote The Telegraph after her August 21 meeting with industrialists. The largest circulated English daily from eastern India had less than a year ago written against the Trinamool Congress chief for driving out the Tatas from Singur.Mamata’s meeting was a durbar of sorts as she addressed members of the country’s three leading chambers of commerce and urged industrialists to set up shop on available railway land.”I urge you all to take the opportunity and use the land available to set up industry,” she told industrialists, chanting her slogan of Ma, Mati and Manush (Mother, Soil and People).Mamata said the railways had already prepared a land bank and about 112,000 acres are available.With her popular railway budget and various initiatives, the ghosts of Singur seemed to have been exorcised. Mamata said land disputes can be avoided with proper planning and human approach.The meeting, which has been organised by the Railways, cleared any doubts about her anti-industry posturing in the past.For now it is brand Mamata that rules Bengal as excitement builds up in the run-up to her big show in 2011.

What Afghanistan’s vote means for India

August 21, 2009

India and Pakistan, with their competitive strategic interest in Afghanistan, are keenly watching the war-battered nation’s election this week, the second since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001.

Is Sri Lanka “careering back to where it was” after election?

August 14, 2009

Sri Lanka’s bloody 25-year conflict with the Tamil Tigers ended in May but commentators reflecting on the country’s first post-war elections last weekend expressed little optimism about a peaceful future for the Indian Ocean island.

Women wield power in election wrangling

May 15, 2009

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.

Indian voters – spoilt for choice?

May 15, 2009

With 8071 candidates contesting 543 seats – that’s an average of 15 candidates for each seat — the 400 million Indian voters who chose to vote sure looked spoilt for choice.

Will the Gandhi magic work again?

May 13, 2009

The countdown has begun in India. As political pundits peer into their tea leaves before the results of another marathon election, the question on everybody’s lips is: will the Gandhi magic work again?

India’s election forecast: the street or the punters?

May 12, 2009

India’s bookies are still holding out on the Congress┬áparty scraping through a largely issueless election with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the firm favourite to retain his post. They have given L.K. Advani, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a 3-1 chance to win the top job.