India’s Elections Expose Economic Divide

Results from India’s national elections disproved pre-poll predictions by ousting the ruling national coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A few weeks ago, the results seemed predictable. The current government, successful in stimulating economic growth for India and promoting better relations with neighboring Pakistan, was expected to return to power. Low voter turnout may have contributed to the BJP’s problems, but the real issue is economic, the writer suggests. Basking in the global adulation for India’s rapid economic growth and especially success in the IT field, the BJP settled on “Shining India” for a campaign theme. But the campaign did not play well in vast areas of the countryside left in poverty. The Financial Times article suggests the party’s slogan “simply highlighted to many Indians that they were being left out” with new economic prosperity concentrated in mostly urban areas and select industry sectors. The all-important agricultural sector has not benefited, and the gap between those “shining” and those still struggling in rural areas widened. Election results demonstrate political parties who best appeal to and reconcile the economic needs of rural and lower-income Indians may have a better chance of winning power and retaining mandates. –YaleGlobal

India's Elections Expose Economic Divide

Gareth Price
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Read the article from the Financial Times.

The writer is senior research fellow on India at the Royal Institute.

Copyright 2004 The Financial Times Ltd.