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Indian American worry about future after polls - The Mid-day

Ashfaque Swapan ()
February 6, 1998

Title: Indian American worry about future after polls
Author: Ashfaque Swapan
Publication: The Mid-day
Date: February 6, 1998

Many Indian Americans are keeping a keen eye on the tempestuous,
fluid political scenario in India as the country prepares for
national elections this month.

Opinions that emerged in interviews with a cross section of
Indian Americans were that amid a general concern about India's
political future there appeared to be a growing consensus that
the Bharatiya Janata Party would emerge the strongest party.

"I fear that the BJP will have a very good showing," said
political analyst Sumit Ganguly.

"The Sonia mystique is getting people to turn out in rallies in
large numbers but I have much more faith in the Indian voter is
much too sophisticated and will not be taken in by the mere fact
this fair woman shows up and tries to invoke the memory of her

"So I don't think that the Congress has the vote-grabbing power,
and Janata Dal is in such disarray that it isn't really a party
worth the name, which essentially gives the BJP the possibility
of an extraordinarily good showing," said Ganguly, a professor of
Hunter College and the Graduate School of the City University of
New York.

BJP supporters are quietly confident about the party's prospects.
"Well, we believe that BJP will win this time, and with its
allies I'm sure they should be able to get enough seats to form
the government," Dinesh Agarwal, president of the Overseas
Friends of the BJP said. "They may not get majority as such, but
with its allies they should get enough votes to form the

Agarwal, a Pennsylvania State University professor in State
College, said ideally they would like the BJP to be able to form
a ministry on its own to avoid compromising on its policies, "but
the survey results and indications whatever we are getting so far
looks like that may not be coming this time."

Lahori Ram, president of the Indian National Congress of America,
dismisses the claims of BJP supporters. "It's not going to
happen," said the Bay Area-based staunch Congress supporter who
heads the California-based organisation.

"The appeal of the BJP is to the ripper castes only, that has got
nothing to do with the Muslim vote, nothing to do with the
scheduled castes, and I don't want to see that happen," said Ram,
a Punjab native who himself belongs to a scheduled caste.

He dismisses recent news of Congress defections to BJP. 'Ram is
particularly excited about the alliance of the Congress and the
backward caste champion Bahujan Samaj Party. "The Congress is in
deep crisis, but you watch."

(India Abroad News Service)

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