Dead Men Left

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The situation in India looks depressingly familiar. Whilst the Hindu chauvinist BJP was decisively rejected by the electorate, and whilst the left parties put on the best parliamentary showing since independence, the stock markets reacted with horror to Sonia Gandhi's appointment; and it is clear that powerful factions inside Congress had taken offence to her extremely watery reformist rhetoric. The news that the man who began the "reform" programme - in reality, the imposition of the Washington Consensus, neoliberalism steamrollered over the population - was to become Prime Minister led immediately to the market's recovery. Whatever Gandhi's personal reasons, the biggest winners from her abdication are those wanting to drive India ever onwards towards a non-existent neoliberal paradise, and certainly not the driven - the millions of India's poor who suffer the consequences, and who voted so decisively against them.

On a related point, the reporting of Manmohan Singh's sudden appointment has been uniformly biased. One small example: from Associated Press, via the Guardian, we learn that "Mr Singh now has the tough task of allocating ministries to Congress and its alliance partners. The list, to be vetted by Sonia Gandhi, must strike a balance between the need to make a team of able administrators and please the leftist allies." It is bad enough to counterpose the two - sensible, "able" neoliberalistas, against doubtless incompetent loony lefties - but, as the experience of West Bengal shows, it seems particularly galling to oppose the two in India's case. There are plenty enough "able administrators" out there on the left.