Friday, July 18, 2008

Craziness in India

Who knew that Indian politics could be so entertaining? With a hugely important confidence vote scheduled for July 22, the Indian political landscape has been thrown into a tizzy.

Last week, in protest over the government’s decision to push ahead with the U.S.-India nuclear deal, the Indian Communists, who virulently oppose the deal, withdrew their support for the Congress Party-led governing coalition and threw in their lot with the BJP, an ironic political alliance of convenience to say the least. For its part, the Congress Party secured the support of the Samajwadi Party. Neither bloc commands an absolute majority, and while the Congress Party is expected to survive, the outcome is still in doubt.

And how are the two sides attempting to woo “undecideds” to their cause? Via the AP’s Matt Rosenberg:

So with such a close vote – both sides have each lined up around 260 lawmakers, a dozen shy of what they need to win – no deal appears too outlandish in an atmosphere that is short on ideology and long on patronage.


The government... announced Thursday that it was naming the airport in the northern city of Lucknow after former Prime Minister Charan Singh, whose son Ajit heads a small political party with three sitting lawmakers.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation — its FBI — recently announced it might investigate corruption allegations against the Samajwadi Party's main rival, Mayawati, the single-named chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

A handful of jailed Congress lawmakers — including one serving a life sentence for murder — have also secured bail so they can vote. The move is legal, but was harshly criticized by the Communist Party of India, which said "there is a question of political morality involved."
What? You mean releasing convicted felons and murders for two days purely for political purposes borders on the politically immoral. You don’t say!

A report filed in London’s Daily Telegraph expands on the story of the “handful of jailed Congress lawmakers”:
The most infamous of the six MPs is Mohammed Shahabuddin from the lawless eastern state of Bihar, who is serving a life term for killing a political opponent. His bail has been granted on the condition that he pays his expenses and those of his police escort.

Another is Rajesh Ranjan, a fellow National Socialist Party MP also from Bihar, who was imprisoned for murdering a local trade unionist.

"Both are important to the vote of confidence and are happy to be out of prison and spend time with fellow MPs in Delhi" senior party leader Ramkripal Yadav said.

No comments: