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India US Congress Research Report Projects Resurgence Of BJP

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
US Congress research report projects resurgence of BJP

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN | Sep 15, 2011, 12.30AM IST

WASHINGTON: American lawmakers and policy planners are being primed for the return of BJP to power at the Centre, with its controversial regional satrap Narendra Modi possibly at the helm as Prime Minister, following what US analysts say is a "precipitous" decline in the Congress party's standing.

A September 1 report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS), a bipartisan and independent research wing of the US Congress that provides briefs for American lawmakers, has gone where forecasters fear to tread: boldly projecting a BJP resurgence. It has also forewarned Washington about the possible elevation to the Prime Minister office of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who was denied a US visa in 2005 for his alleged complicity in the 2002 riots.

"Although still in some disorder in 2011, there are signs that the BJP has made changes necessary to be a formidable challenger in scheduled 2014 polls. These include a more effective branding of the party as one focused on development and good governance rather than emotive, Hindutva-related issues, and Gadkari's success at quelling intra-party dissidence and, by some accounts, showing superior strategizing and organizing skills as compared to his predecessors," the 94-page report notes.

But it's not Gadkari, or the patriarch LK Advani or parliamentary leader Sushma Swaraj who US pundits think is a shoo-in as the prime minister. "Among the party's likely candidates for the prime ministership in future elections is Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who has overseen impressive development successes in his state, but who is also dogged by controversy over his alleged complicity in lethal anti-Muslim rioting there in 2002," the report notes in a surprising long-term projection.

It adds that Modi has in the past been denied a US visa under an American law barring entry for foreign government officials found to be complicit in severe violations of religious freedom. US officials have told this correspondent in background conversations that should Modi become prime minister, Washington's travel ban on him will become infructuous.

However, the report says Modi will face impediments on his drive to the top, noting that despite his clear political and economic successes in Gujarat, he "continues to be haunted by the 2002 Ahmedabad riots, a topic he has never fully addressed in public." It also projects that although Modi is a safe bet to win a third term in 2012 state elections, "his aspirations to be the BJP's prime ministerial candidate face significant obstacles, not least the likelihood that Muslims and liberal-minded Hindus would represent an anti-Modi bloc at the national level, and the BJP's key ally in Bihar, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), could be expected to abandon the alliance in protest."

In contrast to the upbeat assessment of BJP prospects, the CRS report says even before major corruption scandals broke in late 2010, the Congress-led UPA was under considerable criticism for "drift and ineffectiveness." Since that time, the report observes, "the decline of the Congress Party's standing has been precipitous," adding that less than two years after the party won a convincing 2009 national re-election victory, opinion polls showed a majority of Indians believing the UPA coalition had lost its moral authority to rule.

While not directly pitching Modi against Congress Party heir apparent Rahul Gandhi, the CRS report suggests that could well happen. Describing Gandhi as the "most likely heir to Congress leadership," it says "Congress figures' support for the future leadership role of Sonia Gandhi's youthful son has resulted in the corresponding undermining of Singh's political authority."

"Yet this heir-apparent remains dogged by questions about his abilities to lead the party, given a mixed record as an election strategist, uneasy style in public appearances, and reputation for gaffes," says the CRS report, authored by four South Asia specialists led by Alan Kronstadt, a long-time regional expert.

While noting that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made changes to the Union Cabinet in January, demoting several ministers who had been tainted by scandal or criticized for ineffectiveness, the report describes the changes as "relatively minor, leaving most commentators unimpressed." Over the course of recent political upheaval, it observes, "Singh's mild, non-political bearing, once considered part of his appeal, has for many become a liability, especially as the Indian leader has appeared slow-footed in reacting to national outrage over increasing evidence of high-level corruption."

CRS report

On Modi:
Has streamlined economic processes, removing red tape and curtailing corruption in ways that have made the state a key driver of national economic growth.

On Rahul Gandhi: A mixed record as an election strategist, uneasy style in public appearances, and reputation for gaffes.

source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...cts-resurgence-of-BJP/articleshow/9985752.cms



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