Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Old dog, same tricks, in India:

Prakash Karat and the organization he leads, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), would seem like anachronisms in the roaring capitalist economy that is India today.

But quite improbably, by seizing on India's deepening friendship with the United States, Karat and his party have lately emerged as a sharp and dangerous weapon against the coalition government, making it plain that though the Communists do not have the strength to rule India, they have the power to spoil the plans of those who do.

....India's electoral math makes it impossible for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition government, which is led by the Congress Party, to govern without the backing of its Communist allies, principally Karat's party. And so, if Karat carried out his veiled threats to withdraw support, the government could not continue, and fresh elections would have to be called before its five-year term expires in 2009.

....The Communists, long a part of the Indian political fabric, have rarely wielded as much influence as they have in the past three years as the government's allies. They have been blamed for blocking further liberalization of the economy, including the entry of foreign retail chains, for putting the brakes on proposed changes in labor laws and for opposing the nuclear deal on the basis of a lingering cold war mind-set.

"There is a knee-jerk anti-Americanism," said the historian Ramachandra Guha. "In some sense they can't forgive America for having won."

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