Friends for polls: On Congress's need for more allies

Post-poll alliances between parties, shaped as they are by intractable realities, are easier to form than pre-poll alliances that have to reconcile competing expectations of the prospective partners. Soon after the results of the Assembly elections were out, the Bahujan Samaj Party, which had played hard-to-get with the Congress in pre-election alliance talks, announced its support to the party in both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Congress is just short of a majority in these two States, and the BSP’s support was more than welcome. But the Congress leadership may now well pause to consider the huge number of seats that would have been reaped if a pre-poll tie-up with the BSP had materialised, especially in M.P. With 5% of the total vote, the BSP won only two seats; but a pre-poll alliance would have delivered a total of 143 seats for the two parties in the 230-member House. In the first-past-the-post electoral system, a seat-sharing arrangement, though difficult to realise, holds

Homeward bound?: on extradition of Vijay Mallya

The judicial order in the United Kingdom allowing the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya marks a rare victory for India in getting back a fugitive from the law from another jurisdiction. Coming shortly after the United Arab Emirates handed over Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, progress in the Mallya extradition case is another victory for the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is in the throes of a raging controversy over a power tussle involving its two top officers. It must be a matter of satisfaction to the Government of India that the controversy did not affect the outcome of the extradition proceedings before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Mr. Mallya’s lawyers raised doubts about the CBI’s independence, its alleged susceptibility to political interference, the perception that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Congress were using his case to score political points, the possible pressure on
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