Letter: Lessons of the Indian election

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Sir: Your prognosis of the outcome of the Indian elections is far too gloomy ("India tears up the rule book", 16 May).

The IMF exacts a very heavy price from debtor countries; one has only to look at Africa to realise what havoc it has created there. Some liberalisation of the Indian economy was necessary, but a full-blooded, Thatcher-style rhinoceros charge was uncalled for.

A country where the disparity between the rich and poor was already stark has become even starker. That is the reason why the Congress Party has been abolished. However, it would be premature to write off the Congress Party. Despite bribery and promises of cabinet posts, I am quite certain the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party will never be able to muster enough votes in two weeks. The Congress and the so-called Third Force will join together and form the next government. India is and will remain a secular state. Hinduism is too amorphous and does not lend itself to fundamentalism.

If anything, this election will have taught the thuggish politicians one lesson - the Indian electorate will not hesitate to punish them when they go too far.

Shyama Iyer

London NW3