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India’s messy confidence vote
Hardball politics and a U.S. nuclear pact both win.
 

What happened
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh beat a no-confidence motion in Parliament yesterday, opening the way for India to ratify a nuclear accord with the U.S. The voting was accompanied by intrigue, as three opposition lawmakers said they had been offered bribes to abstain from voting against Singh. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
Singh’s victory is certainly good news for the U.S., said Max Boot in Commentary’s Contentions blog. The nuclear deal is “the cornerstone” of the Bush administration’s plan for a new strategic alliance with India, and this could help make India “an important bulwark against China as well as a friend in the fight against radical Islam.”

This “nail biting" win was crucial for Singh, said Vandana Mittal in India’s Merinews, but it cost his ruling coalition the support of the Communist parties and forced unseemly “horse trading.” Now Singh has until elections next March to show that this deal was worth the fight.

The satisfying win for the ruling party and its nuclear deal, said The Asian Age in an editorial, “cannot overshadow the deplorable fact that Tuesday was a day of eternal shame for India’s parliamentary democracy.” The “cash-for-abstention” charges were bad enough, but Parliament also heard allegations of other “unsavoury events” like kidnapping and threatened arrests.

Some of the charges are serious, said The Times of India in an editorial, and they need to be investigated. But “once the dust has settled, it’s also time to get on with the business of governance.” India needs to tackle rising inflation and a slowing economy. And now that Singh no longer has to depend on support from the Communists, maybe he can push through real economic reforms.

 

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