INTRODUCTION In just over a month, the Indian population will go to the polls in a general election.
INTRODUCTION In just over a month, the Indian population will go to the polls in a general election. The country's political parties are getting their campaigns into full swing with the release of their election manifestos. On Thursday (10 February) one of the main opposition party leaders, Subramaniam Swami, returned to a tumultuous welcome in New Delhi after living abroad for 19 months.
SYNOPSIS: Dr. Swami is a leading member of the Hindu Nationalist Jar Sangh Party. The group now form part of the combined opposition within the Janata Coalition Party. Dr. Swami has been teaching at Harvard University in the United States but resigned his professorship to return to India. He arrived in Bombay on the eighth of February. There are two warrants for the doctor's arrest under the Internal Security Act and another concerning foreign exchange and travel regulations. But police had made no move to arrest him by the time he arrived in New Delhi. He was expelled from the Indian Upper House of Parliament in November last year and was accused of spreading anti-Indian propaganda abroad. Nevertheless, his support has remained strong throughout India.
But there is also strong support for the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, who introduced the state of emergency which Dr. Swami said reduced the Indian Parliament to a "captive". Crowds gather daily outside the Prime Minister's house and on Thursday Mrs. Gandhi came out to speak to her supporters. She told the crowd that with the easing of the emergency, discipline had been eroded and the prices of some commodities had risen. But political observers believe that the partial relaxation of the emergency would bring Mrs. Gandhi sig??? ant gains in popular sup???.
Thursday was also the day for the release of the Janata Party's election manifesto. The party' Deputy Chairman, Mr. Charan Singh, predicted that Janata would win the election with what he called a "good majority". The manifesto promised electors both bread and freedom and a return to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi -- the man who inspired India's independence movement over 20 years ago. It also offered decentralisation of political power with encouragement given to small-scale industries. But the final choice will be in the hands of the electorate when they go to the polls from the 16th. to the 20th of March.