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India's Stock Market Jittery as Gandhi Is Poised to Take Power

THE WORLD

Sell-off reflects concerns that a shift to the left will halt privatization efforts in the economy.

May 15, 2004|Paul Watson and Shankhadeep Choudhury | Times Staff Writers

The Communists plan to announce their minimum demands for supporting Gandhi's government after a meeting of the party's politburo and central committee over the weekend. But the record of Communist and Congress Party governments in several of India's states offers hints of what the incoming federal government may do.

When the Congress Party came to power in a landslide in the state of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, the incoming chief minister announced he would provide free electricity to millions of farmers.

The promise was a dramatic turnaround after the previous government's nine-year effort to end state subsidies and carry out other economic reforms, and is expected to cost the state millions of dollars in new subsidies.

In the southern state of Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front says its government's focus on providing good schools, healthcare and infrastructure has raised the standard of living significantly.

Kerala officials say theirs is the first state in India with a fully literate population, whereas only 65% of the overall population can read and write. Kerala also claims the highest life expectancy and lowest infant mortality in the country.

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