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MYTHS OF THE PERMIT RAJ
The unexpected Congress election victory in May 2004 has placed the Indian Left in a cleft stick. The outcome offers genuine reprieve from the nearly two-decades long seemingly inexorable forward march of the authoritarian Hindu Right, which after six years in power has already vitiated the secular and democratic characteristics of Indian society and was poised to do even more damage. To deepen the Right’s current disarray the Left wants to avoid at all costs bringing down the governing Congress-led coalition before it completes its full five-year term. At the same time, the poll result expressed nationwide (particularly rural) unhappiness with the effects of the neoliberal turn—initiated in 1991 by Manmohan Singh, the new Congress Prime Minister, in his then capacity as Minister of Finance.
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