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BSP offers unconditional support to UPA government

Atiq Khan

to forestall political isolation in Uttar Pradesh

– Photo: Subir Roy

On the backfoot: UP Chief Minister and BSP president
Mayawati during a poll performance review meeting in Lucknow on

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party
president Mayawati has extended her party’s unconditional support from
outside to a UPA government. Party general secretary Satish Chandra
Mishra will submit a letter of support to President Pratibha Patil and
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the BSP national executive
and parliamentary board held at Ms. Mayawati’s 5 Kalidas Marg official
residence here on Tuesday. The meeting, which was presided over by the
Chief Minister, was called to review the BSP’s election performance.

Ms. Mayawati’s move is being seen as an attempt to forestall the
possibility of her political isolation in Uttar Pradesh. On the
election trail she campaigned extensively against the Congress, but now
the BSP and the SP find themselves in the same boat.

With 20 MPs, the BSP emerged as the third largest party in Uttar
Pradesh, behind the Samajwadi Party with 23 MPs and the Congress, which
has 21 elected representatives. The BSP’s final count was way behind
the expectations of the Chief Minister and senior party leaders, who
expected a tally of 35 to 45. Mr. Mishra had, on the eve of
vote-counting, claimed in New Delhi that the BSP would win 40 to 45
seats in U.P.

In her address, Ms. Mayawati said she had congratulated Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Ms. Gandhi after the results came. She
indicated that BSP support to a new government was offered at the
behest of Dr. Singh. Stating that the Prime Minister called her his
younger sister, Ms. Mayawati said Dr. Singh wanted the BSP to adopt a
positive approach to enable the formation of a UPA government and
strengthen the secular forces.

Ms. Mayawati said she had extended the support despite the fact that
the previous UPA government had not given any financial aid to the BSP
government: neither would it come in the future. The Chief Minister
said the UPA government cannot be expected to ameliorate the suffering
of the common man. She said the support had been extended in order to
weaken the communal forces and keep the NDA out of power.

Ms. Mayawati alleged that Muslims were misled by the Congress and
the SP, which was why minority voters did not offer their full support
to the BSP: instead they had voted for the Congress and the SP. With
the shift in the Muslim vote, the upper castes too voted for the
Congress as the BJP did not have winning chances.

The BSP president said that in addition to the party winning 20
seats, in about 50 constituencies its candidates came second in terms
of votes polled.

The BSP’s vote share had gone up from 24.67 per cent to 27.42 per
cent in U.P. The party had emerged as the third largest national party.

On Monday, about 125 chairmen and vice-chairmen of State commissions
and corporations, who enjoyed the status of Ministers of State, were
asked to submit their resignations to Babu Singh Kushwaha, BSP national
general secretary and Ms. Mayawati’s lieutenant.

The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute

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The Enterprise Blog

The Indian Election: Stability Now, Challenges Ahead

By Apoorva Shah

May 18, 2009, 12:59 pm

Monday, the Bombay Stock Exchange Index (SENSEX) jumped more than 17
percent after this weekend’s election results in India, in which the
ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) gained 82 seats
in parliament while delivering a resounding defeat to the troublesome
Left, which withdrew its support of the government last year in the
wake of the U.S.-India nuclear deal. Few predicted such a strong
showing by the incumbency: an editorial in The Hindu declared with
“near certainty” that the election would produce a hung parliament.
Instead, Indians voted strongly in favor of the ruling coalition and
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s understated leadership, reassuring
investors and sidelining caste and religion-based parties such as Scheduled Caste
leader Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Hindu-nationalist
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

But the Congress Party’s impressive mandate also carries the burden
of a slowing economy, need for domestic institutional reform, and
lingering inequalities in health and education. In Uttar Pradesh, the
most populous state, total life expectancy is less than 60 years while
Punjab’s life expectancy is almost 70 years. And Uttar Pradesh’s infant
mortality rates are more than four times higher than those of Kerala,
one of India’s most prosperous states. While India is well-known for
producing top-rate scientists and engineers from elite academies such
as the Indian Institutes of Technology, much of the population still
does not have access to basic education. These discrepancies are more
striking at the state level: while Kerala has primary school attendance
rates of 98.1 percent, only 58.5 percent of children attend primary
school in India’s poorest state, Bihar.

India’s emerging status as a global power is often discussed in
comparison to the rise of China. But look at the population pyramids by
sex and educational attainment below: India today more closely
resembles the China of 1970 rather than the China of 2000. Indian
educated elites may rival their Chinese counterparts, but the vast poor
and lower-middle classes have a long way to go. Considering this, the
strong defeat of populist and left-wing parties in this latest election
is even more surprising.

Source: K.C. Samir, et al. (2008). available at

Source: K.C. Samir, et al. (2008). Available at

Sources: W Lutz, A et al. 2007. Reconstruction of population by age, sex and level of educational attainment of 120 countries for 1970-2000. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, vol. 2007, pp 193-235.

W Lutz, A., et al. 2007. Reconstruction of population by age, sex, and
level of educational attainment of 120 countries for 1970-2000. Vienna
Yearbook of Population Research, vol. 2007, pp. 193-235.

Source: K.C. Samir, et al. (2008)., available at

Source: K.C. Samir, et al. (2008). Available at

In the midst of a challenging economic climate, the
biggest hurdles lie ahead.

Parties vie to support Congress-led front

NEW DELHI: The Congress party’s search for numbers in the Lok Sabha
is over with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya
Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal (Secular) handing over letters of
support. This effectively brings the entire fourth front and some of
the constituents of the third front on to the government’s side.

The Samajwadi Party was the first to hand over a letter of support
for the Congress-led government to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil
on Tuesday morning. In the evening the BSP and the RJD followed suit.
The former Karnataka Chief Minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy, handed over a
letter of support on behalf of the three JD(S) members to Congress
president Sonia Gandhi in the evening and told reporters that his party
had no demands.

The Samajwadi Party and the JD(S) claimed that they submitted their
letters of support in response to a request from Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh. Meanwhile, a Rashtrapati Bhavan release said the
President had received letters of support for the Manmohan Singh-led
government from the Bodoland People’s Front, the Sikkim Democratic
Front and the Nagaland People’s Front. The three parties have a member
each in the 15th Lok Sabha.

The Congress now has the support of 316 members. Meanwhile, the
party has also received the letter of support from its pre-poll ally in
West Bengal, Trinamool Congress, which has 19 members.

The day also saw Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi meet Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Ms. Gandhi to submit the letter of support
and discuss portfolios. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is said to
be pressing for three Cabinet berths – one each for Mr. Karunanidhi’s
two children, M.K. Azhagiri and Kanimozhi, besides his grand nephew
Dayanidhi Maran. The Congress is not keen on conceding more than two
Cabinet berths to the DMK.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is also learnt to have sent feelers to
the Congress but there is a strong view in the party’s Uttar Pradesh
unit against any alliance with Ajit Singh’s organisation. The Congress,
for its part, is willing to consider the RLD’s overtures only if it
agrees to merge with the party.

Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi has
sent a letter to Ms. Gandhi articulating the State unit’s view that the
Congress should respect the verdict and keep the Samajwadi Party, BSP
and RLD at a distance.

Even as the Congress and its pre-poll allies are scheduled to sit
down together on Wednesday to work out the modalities of government
formation, all are bracing for some hard bargaining on ministerial
berths and portfolios.

Within hours of arch rival Bahujan Samaj Party announcing its decision
to support the United Progressive Alliance government, Samajwadi Party
general secretary Amar Singh on Tuesday met President Pratibha Patil
and handed over a letter of support of the party’s 23 MPs.

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