ELECTIONS: POPULARITY TEST FOR THE GOVERNMENT

Vol 2, PW 22 (11 Nov 98) People & Policy
     

It is tempting to think that the Reliance raids were an elaborate pre-election gimmick, to garner support for a government in deep trouble with the electorate; to prove that, if anything, it is tough on crime.

For on 25 November, voters in four Indian states - Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram - will have cast their votes for new state assemblies, in the first serious test of popularity for the ruling BJP since it came to power six months ago. If opinion polls are anything to go by, the BJP will lose control of Delhi, and Rajasthan to the Congress Party but may possibly win Madhya Pradesh.

Mizoram, in the north-east, with its 80% Christian population is of no strategic value to either party, and the outcome there is of no consequence except to the people who live there. Atal B.

Vajpayee, the prime minister, tries his best to dispel the notion that the results will be a verdict on his governments performance but everyone knows that they will be. As usual during elections in India, the administrative machinery has come to a grinding halt as bureaucrats lay down their Mont Blancs to await the outcome.