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Mira Kamdar: "Our Man in Kerala" — World Policy Journal and India's 2009 General Elections

Mira KamdarLong-time World Policy Journal editorial board member Shashi Tharoor has been elected to India’s parliament in the country’s fifteenth general election.  Running from his home town of Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor garnered a historic margin of victory of more than 100,000 votes. “I am truly humbled by the extraordinary level of trust the voters of Thiruvananthapuram have placed in me, and I am conscious that now is when the real work begins,” wrote Tharoor, a man on the move, from his Blackberry. Tharoor’s success helped the Congress Party, on whose ticket he ran, win a landslide victory. Trouncing predictions of a fractured and fragile coalition as the most likely outcome of an election in which more than 400 million of India’s 700 million-plus eligible voters cast ballots in five phases over one month, India’s grand, old Congress Party won outright 262 of the 272-seat majority required to form a government. The stunning victory by the party that came to power with the birth of the Republic of India more than 60 years ago has left both India’s Left and Right in tatters.

. Such a clear mandate by a party that has positioned itself as a force for religious tolerance and economic growth tempered by concern for India’s very poor majority has been hailed by business leaders around the world as a welcome outcome. India’s stock exchanges shot up on the news. But as Tharoor points out, Congress has little time to waste on celebration. India is facing a gauntlet of serious challenges, and the ability of the new government to chart a course through a widening wealth gap, a deteriorating environment, a growing water and agricultural crisis, and hemorrhaging cities—while dealing with a region fraught with conflict and insecurity—is not made easier by the current global economic and climate crises.

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