Vol 3, PW 6 (14 Apr 99) People & Policy

As political crises go, the one currently sweeping India is perhaps the most serious faced by the BJP-led government in the twelve months since it came to power.

At stake, is the very survival of Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister. On 15 April, parliament reconvenes for what will undoubtedly be one of the stormiest sessions its has seen in months.

Initially, MPs were to have debated amendments to the Finance Bill, announced in the budget. Instead they will debate the future of the BJP-led government.

A No-Confidence motion is expected to be moved on the 15th or soon after, though none of the opposition parties have the courage to take the first step. In terms of numbers, the BJP and its allies will most certainly lose any vote.

If that happens, we could be in for for weeks if not months of uncertainty. Indian bureaucrats thrive on political instability and many will lay down their pens until the situation clears.

Files of oil and gas projects, as with other infrastructure-related projects, will remain on hold until it becomes clear who needs to benefit financially. ie, who will be the next Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

The present minister, Vazhappady Ramamurthy, is these days nowhere to be seen. For the moment, nothing is ruled out: mid-term elections A Congress-led government with Sonia Gandhi as PM The BJP carrying on as a minority government Any one of these three options is possible.