08/23/2004, 00.00
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Between delays and hesitations: the first 100 days of the Singh government

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – "As Mr Singh nears completion of his first one hundred days in office, Indians are beginning to ask: We know he is sincere and hard working, but where is the leadership, the direction?", this according to Amrit Dhillon, an Indian political analyst, writing in today's South China Morning Post.

One hundred days have come and gone since Manmohan Singh was sworn in as India's Prime Minister, and many Indians are having second thoughts about the sudden and unexpected appointment of the Oxford-trained economist. For Dhillon, there still is a lingering impression that "Sonia Gandhi is pulling the strings and that Singh may not be totally free to act as he sees fit."

For Dhillon the impression is compounded by the fact that the government has not really started dealing with important issues such as "rising inflation, terrorist attacks in Kashmir, a popular rebellion in Manipur, and [. . .] peace with Pakistan."  "People are beginning to wonder if Mr Singh [. . .] is capable of making tough political decisions," he adds.

The Prime Minister is particularly berated for his handling of the crisis in Manipur. In this north-eastern State a popular protest movement has been calling for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSP), a law that grants extraordinary powers to the army without putting any real checks on its actions. Accusations of human rights abuses, especially against women, are legion.

Many commentators have pointed out that Singh has yet to visit Manipur, or send a minister to the State, or act against the Manipur government's decision to unilaterally suspend a federal law, namely the aforementioned AFSP, without consulting the federal government.

The Congress Party government has equally come under fire for its inaction vis-à-vis Kashmiri separatists. "While no real progress was made [during the Bharatiya Janata Party administration], the talks were nevertheless a breakthrough in that they lowered the wall of mistrust between the separatists and New Delhi," Dhillon writes.

No one doubts that Singh needs time to get used to his new functions, but neither does anyone doubt that "he needs to enlist the services of colleagues whose political abilities are better honed than his," Dhillon stresses. (LF)

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See also
Kashmir: Singh expresses solidarity with civilians, prudent on political developments
How Christian is Sonia Gandhi?
New Delhi not to allow single states to define religious minorities
In his first press conference PM Singh says he is "against all forms of fundamentalism"
New government by religious minorities promises secular leadership


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