Indian stake in US election

New Delhi, Oct 29 | Updated: Oct 30 2004, 05:56am hrs
India is keeping a close watch on the US presidential elections which are drawing closer. Historically, Indias bilateral relations with the US have always been driven by the person occupying the White House. So this election is a little different.

For a large number it did not matter who occupied the White House till a couple of days back, the general feeling being how does it matter to us as there would be no dramatic change in relations.

But things took a turn a couple of days back. An appearence by the former US president Bill Clinton, who all Indians considered was a great friend of the country, changed it all. The former president actually came out in the open to campaign for the presidential candidate John Kerry, after his heart surgery.

The fact that Kerry belongs to former President Bill Clintons Democratic Party is enough for a common Indian to support him.

G W Bush
Many Indians have started feeling that relations between the two countries may once again see a high in case Kerry comes to power, who is now being considered as Clintons man.

However foreign policy experts still maintain that things would not be different if Kerry comes to power. Outsourcing may not remain a big issue after the elections because it is a part of global trend and irrespective of the fact who would be the next occupant of White House, relations would continue to improve in its own pace, Salman Haider, former foreign secretary told FE.

The bilateral trade between India and the US grew rapidly during Democratic rule. Mr Clinton not only visited India during his tenure in the White House, but also came calling to New Delhi after relinquishing his office to pursue work with organisations working with AIDS patients.

Neither the UPA government nor the opposition parties has hinted at any favorites, but in private most people say they hope Bush wont make it again.

Although the Bush administration removed all international sanctions imposed on India following the 1998 nuclear tests, that has not made Bush a favorite among the majority of Indians.

Interestingly, it may be recalled that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on his recent visit to New York, had a one-hour long meeting with Bush. But he did not attempt to talk to Kerry.

While Bush is perceived as a warmonger, his predecessor Bill Clinton is still seen as the true friend of India.