The Bell Tolls for India’s Congress Party

NEW YORK – Politics in Asia’s two giants, India and China, has suddenly turned very uncertain. China remains in authoritarian mode, of course. But egregious human-rights violations and suppression of dissent are raising the specter of growing internal disruptions, particularly in the wake of purges within the top leadership.

By contrast, India, with its firmly rooted liberal democracy, smells to some like roses. But many believe that India, too, faces uncertain political prospects.

In particular, there is widespread belief in India today that one of the country’s two main political parties, the Indian National Congress, essentially run by Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, has now run its course and will sink into oblivion. According to The Economist: “The Congress Party…is in a funk” and “in danger of…long-term decline.”

But the Congress has been written off before: the article from The Economist was published in January 2003. Indeed, the uniform prediction prior to the 2004 election was that, after having lost three elections in a row, the Congress was heading for its fourth defeat and eventual dissolution. Yet it won that election, and then won a second parliamentary election in 2009.