South Asia Monitor: Indian Elections 2004: An Early Preview - August 5, 2003
August 5, 2003
With five states scheduled to go to polls this fall, political activity is moving into high gear in India. The state elections will provide a good barometer of popular sentiment toward the government and are being treated as a ‘test run’ for the national elections due in 2004. The state elections will largely determine how the major contenders deal with the volatile issue of Hindu nationalism. How relations with Pakistan figure in the election depends largely on the outcome of current India-Pakistan peace efforts. But the key issue to watch is the ability of the current ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Congress party, its principal opponent, to hold together a coalition. This will not only be central to their electoral strategies, it will also determine the next government’s freedom of action in making national policy.