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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

AAP's anti-graft promise difficult goal to achieve: US political scientist

IANS  New Delhi, January 07, 2014
First Published: 12:57 IST(7/1/2014) | Last Updated: 13:29 IST(7/1/2014)

The Aam Aadmi Party's(AAP) promise to sweep away corruption from the Indian political system is a "difficult" goal to achieve, says a visiting American political scientist. Fighting corruption needs stronger legislative tools, and just by forming a government AAP is not likely to reduce corruption, said he.

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John Echeverri-Gent, associate professor at University of Virginia, presented his views about close association of economy, business and Indian political system during a session "The Economy, Business and India's 2014 Parliamentary Elections" at the India International Centre Monday evening.

"Everyone has this question - will the broom of AAP sweep corruption from this nation? But in all likelihood, AAP by forming government is not likely to reduce corruption," said the wellknown public policy professor to a discerning audience.

"They might do less than what we are hoping. It is because until AAP plays a big role in the (national) legislature, such goals are difficult to achieve," Echeverri-Gent added, and was quick to clarify that his statement is based on his observations till now.

"AAP has surprised all of us by making a back-door entry and heading straight to the front row. But how it performs in the general elections is something to watch out for. Though, I personally feel they won't win more than 50 seats," he added.

Echeverri-Gent's expertise and understanding about India's fragmented politics comes from his well-researched books "The State and the Poor: Public Policy and Political Development in India and the United State", "Economic Reform in Three Giants: U.S. Foreign Policy and the USSR, China, and India", which he co-edited.

His presentation was a gist of his new book, "Politics of Markets: Political Economy of India's Financial Market Development in Comparative Perspective", he is currently working on.

Hearing his arguments and observations was author and political commentator Surjit. S.Bhalla, who has authored books like  "Devaluing to Prosperity: Misaligned Currencies and Their Growth Consequences", "Imagine There's No Country: Poverty, Inequality, and Growth in the Era of Globalisation."

While Bhalla agreed with most of the visiting professor's arguments, he strongly felt 2014 elections will be no lesser than a "mega election".

"Middle class has become sizable in India and hence they would come out and vote for parties with good economic governance. If you have observed, parties with good performance have been getting great response from people," said Bhalla.

"So, this will be an election fought on economic policies and not on social or political policies," he added, saying parties doing much on economic front will win.

With the AAP announcing it will contest the Lok Sabha polls from 20 states, these political scientists felt the trend of "multi-party" and "fragmented system" will continue to cloud Indian political scene.

"It is hard to believe the AAP will roll out other political parties in a day and take over," said Bhalla.

While Echeverri-Gent felt the media was too obsessed with the AAP phenomena, he felt the trend of multi-fragmented-party system was here to stay in India for a longer time.


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