Are you surprised by Narendra Modi and his party’s overwhelming victory?
The opening polls were predicting for some time that the party of Modi will do well. In the past the public opinion polls had not been accurate. This time they have been accurate. And in fact Modi victory was widely predicted over the last 6 months or so. The Congress party had been involved in a number of corruption cases, people were angry. But was is surprising is that the BJP had not only got a clear majority on its own, but a significantly larger number with its allies and it represents for the first time in 30 years every corner of India, from southeast to the west. That is the first time in the last 30 years.
How can you explain the fact that many said “no” to India’s ruling Congress Party when casting their ballots?
The Congress Party vote was split and BJP ran a very organized campaign. The Congress Party’s leadership was weak and the Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi has been predicted as future prime minister. It wasn’t announced but he was in effect the leader and he couldn’t attract the people of India who are conservative and religious, and most of the country lives in the countryside, he just couldn’t attract voters.
Will India benefit from the BJP being at the helm?
India is a large country with emerging economy and it has strength but there are problems in India and while right now there is euphoria in the air, everybody feels that there is going to be a change and the change for good, but I am afraid the challenges India faces both on the domestic and foreign policy front are not going to go away. In foreign policy I see more the same path that the outgoing government of the Congress Party had taken, foreign policy does not change radically with the change of government. Domestic policy could change, BJP is seen as a business-friendly party. So the businessmen of India are going to be happy and they would expect the BJP, when it forms a new government, perhaps on the May 21st, to form a party that would help business and already the Indian stock market got high.
How will India build ties in Russia under the new Cabinet?
Russia and India had been friends. Certainly from early 50s Russia has been close, the Soviet Union then, has been close to India and that continues to be the case because although Indian relations with the US have improved in the last two decades or so, but that was because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, India had to fall back on the West, on the US, recently relations with the US have become tense, there are serious problems between India and the US and, therefore, the importance of Indian relations with Russia has increased. But in the background the relations between India and Russia were always good and if India ever wants to counter Western pressures, then Russia is used as a counter.