Indian government's unstable win
In wake of confidence vote, it faces shaky political alliances and corruption claims.
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Singh, a mild-mannered economist who became prime minister in 2004 at the behest of Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi, has often seemed a reluctant politician, unsuited to the brutal cut and thrust of Indian politics.Skip to next paragraph
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But in the run-up to the confidence vote, he showed an ability to forge the opportunistic alliances that are essential for staying in power in India today.
Many economists hope he will use his remaining months in power to push through economic reforms, including an easing of foreign investment rules.
As finance minister in the 1990s, Singh was the architect of seismic reforms that heralded India's current economic boom. But as prime minister, he has been hamstrung by his erstwhile communist allies.
Many fear that the government's new alliance – formed with the express aim of winning the confidence vote rather than on ideological grounds – will leave the government too weak to achieve many reforms.
Singh's government will also suffer from claims that its allies bribed members of the BJP to vote with it. In an unprecedented moment of parliamentary drama, BJP members of parliament (MPs) waved wads of cash on the floor of the lower house Tuesday, saying the UPA's allies had paid it as a bribe.
Singh, who is known across party lines for his integrity, has promised his party will cooperate in an inquiry into the claims. But at best, say analysts, he has presided over a situation in which MPS changed their voting decisions amid claims of bribery.
"We have a politics without scruples, without principles, without common decency and without common prudence," wrote political scientist Pratab Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express newspaper on Wednesday.
"This allegation will not be easy for the government to shake off and will be used by the BJP and leftists to discredit its victory," said Seema Desai, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, a London-based political risk advisory group.
With focus now turning to the general election, analysts expect opposition politicians to milk such claims for all they are worth.
On Wednesday, a group of key political parties including the government's Communist allies, a rising regional party and a number of smaller parties formed a new antigovernment coalition, claiming that the government had lost its moral authority.
India's most powerful lower-caste politician, Mayawati, who tried very publicly to bring down the government ahead of the confidence vote, said the government had "murdered democracy."
In the current political and economic climate, the government will hope to put off general elections for as long as possible. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on three significant state elections later this year, in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.
All three are ruled by the BJP, which has had a good run in state elections this year.