Friday, June 26, 2009

SSC Board exams on their way out

Perhaps it is an Indian student's dream come true! The SSC board exams will be scrapped, reports The Hindu Business Line.

June 25: The Minister of Human Resource Development, Mr Kapil Sibal, on Thursday, proposed the formation of an autonomous overarching regulatory and assessment authority for higher education which would subsume the University Grants Commission, the All-India Council of Technical Education and the Medical Council of India.

This is in line with the recommendations of the Professor Yashpal Committee and the National Knowledge Commission. Also, there will be a review of the functioning of existing ‘deemed universities’.

Mr Sibal unveiled a slew of legislative, policy and administrative initiatives for the education sector during the first 100 days of the Government.

One of the key initiatives is that the Class 10 Board examinations should be made optional along with putting a grading system in place for Standard Nine and 10 in schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education.

“We must de-traumatise education. It cannot be traumatic for parents and children. This is unacceptable,” the Minister said at the unveiling of the education agenda. Mr Sibal’s first 100-day plan for the education sector includes looking at the possibility of a law to create an independent accreditation body in school education.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

IIT quota seats not filled

Here is an article from the Times of India with interesting facts...

Every year, lakhs of students burn the midnight oil for months to get into the hallowed Indian Institutes of Technology. But as admissions closed on Wednesday, one startling fact emerged — there weren't enough qualified candidates to fill up the reserved seats on offer for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, or the physically challenged.

IIT heads told TOI that over 1,100 seats will now be transferred to the preparatory course. This course, which is like a feeder class, trains quota students for a year to equip them to qualify for the IITs. Students for the preparatory course are selected by reducing cut-offs even further.

On the OBC (other backward classes) reservation front too, 53 seats were transferred to general category candidates, though the IITs are still only in the second year of the quotas (they are implementing 18% quota before moving to the total 27% reservation). The IITs, in fact, had made various concessions to ensure they could fill the SC/ST seats. They lowered entry levels for these categories and even went as low as 50% below the last general category student's marks to do justice to the quota. Even this did not help them get the required number of backward category students.

Read the original article here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 13, 2009, Enduring Democracy Limited Government

Liberty Institute In partnership with Friedrich Naumann–Stiftung für die Freiheit
Cordially invite you to the
Julian L. Simon Memorial Lecture
Enduring Democracy and Limited Government
The unbreakable partnership
Dr Tom G. Palmer
Atlas Economic Research Foundation, USA
Venue: Conference Hall, ASSOCHAM House, 47 Prithviraj Road, New Delhi 110011
Date: 13 June 2009
6 pm – Registration
6.30 pm – Welcome
6.40 pm – Talk by Dr Tom Palmer
7.20 pm – Comments and questions
8.00 pm – Refreshments

Liberty Institute Tel. 011-28031309 Email: Web sites: ,
Friedrich Naumann - Stiftung für die Freiheit
Tel: 011-26863846
Web site:
Dr. Tom G. Palmer is Vice President for International Programs at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, General Director of the Atlas Global Initiative for Free Trade, Peace, and Prosperity, and a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Previously he was Vice President for International Programs at the Cato Institute and Director of the Center for Promotion of Human Rights. He is the author of Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice, which was just published this month. Dr. Palmer has long been active in the freedom movement and was very active in the late 1980s and the early 1990s in the spread of classical liberal ideas in the Soviet bloc states and their successors.
He continues to be active throughout the region through his work with, the Global Initiative’s Russian-language program, and with the Institute’s European programs. He also established and supervises the Global Initiative’s programs in Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Portuguese, Chinese, French, Behasa Melayu/Indonesia, Africa (in a several languages), and he is working to establish new programs to promote classical liberal ideas in Urdu, Hindi, and Vietnamese. He was an H. B. Earhart Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford University, and a vice president of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. He frequently lectures in Europe, North America, Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, China, and the Middle East — from England to Iraq to China to Kyrgyzstan to Ghana and many other countries — on political science, public choice, civil society, and the moral, legal, and historical foundations of individual rights.
He has published contributions in books published by Princeton University Press, Routledge, Cambridge University Press, and other publishers, and has published articles and reviews on politics and morality in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Ethics, Critical Review, and Constitutional Political Economy, as well as in publications such as Slate, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Die Welt, and The Spectator of London. He received his B.A. in liberal arts from St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland, his M.A. in philosophy from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and his Ph.D. in politics from Oxford University.
"The ultimate resource is people - especially skilled, spirited, and hopeful young people - who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit, and so, inevitably, for the benefit of us all." -- Julian L. Simon

Prof. Julian L. Simon (1932 – 1998) was an economist and demographer based at the University of Maryland at College Park, just outside Washington DC. He had a special interest in natural resource and environmental issues. He eloquently showed that, contrary to popular perception, all natural resources have become more abundant with economic development, and the only resource that has become dearer is human labour, although our numbers have grown at an unprecedented rate over the past few centuries.
Prof. Simon had published over two dozen books, mostly on population, environment and developmental issues. His most famous book is The Ultimate Resource (1980), which was completely revised and updated in 1997.
Prof. Simon passed away in 1998. He was instrumental in encouraging us establish Liberty Institute as an independent think tank. His last visit to India was in 1997, when he participated in the Institute’s Freedom Workshop. We instituted the memorial lecture to keep alive this spirit of Simon in questioning conventional wisdom and bringing facts to light on a variety of environmental and development issues.
The inaugural lecture was delivered by eminent economist Deepak Lal, James S. Coleman Professor of International Development Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, on “The New Cultural Imperialism: The greens and economic development” in 2000. The next speaker in 2002, was Leon Louw, Executive Director of the Free Market Foundation, and the Good Law Project in Johannesburg, South Africa. His topic was “The Miracle of Poverty”. Prof. C. S. Prakash of Tuskegee University, USA, delivered the third lecture in this series in 2003, when he spoke on “Agricultural Productivity: Role of Modern Technologies”. Prof. Ken Schoolland of Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, delivered the lecture in January 2005. The title of his talk was “Courage, Fear and Immigration: The significance of welcoming newcomers in a free economy”. In 2006, Prof. Max Singer of BESA Institute of Bar Ilan University in Israel, spoke on “Humanity in the next hundred years”.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Legislators must represent constituents and conscience, not party bosses

Indian democracy can either be grass-roots-representative or politically stable, but not both. The reason is that the individual legislator is legally powerless in front of the party “high command”. All decisions of party leaders are just rubber-stamped by Parliament. Any dissent, and the legislator is threatened with removal, writes Harsh Gupta in The Mint.

Indian democracy has a unique problem: Its government can either be grass-roots-representative or politically stable, but not both. The reason is that the individual legislator is legally powerless in front of the party “high command”, making the executive unaccountable. And if regional parties rise to increase accountability, stability suffers. One of the biggest culprits is the anti-defection law.

After winning a huge majority in the 1984 general election, Rajiv Gandhi passed the 52nd amendment to the Constitution in 1985. This made legislators liable to be suspended if they did not always vote according to their party whip—unless one-third of a party’s bench defected and formed a new party. This was done ostensibly to prevent them from opportunistically changing parties. Since this still did not prevent wholesale defections, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government outlawed this entirely through the 91st amendment in 2003.

So if there is any reform which a majority of the Opposition and a small but significant minority of the ruling party support, it still cannot go through despite having an overall majority in the House. For instance, many members of both the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the NDA were sympathetic to insurance reform during the previous government’s tenure—but the party bosses were undecided.

Therefore, the executive is neither checked nor pushed by the legislature once the government is formed—defeating the concept of separation of powers. All decisions of party leaders are just rubber-stamped by Parliament. Any dissent, and the legislator is threatened with removal—that is, his entire constituency might go unrepresented.

The executive is not checked by the legislature, defeating the concept of separation of powers

Yet the British parliamentary system, on which Indian democracy is explicitly modelled, allows intra-party dissent. Tony Blair took the support of some Tories for the Iraq war, over opposition from his own party members. The American system has even had legislature controlled by a different party than the executive, besides many intra-party differences—“green” Republicans and “gun” Democrats are not hard to find.

In India, too, there were open debates within the Congress during Jawaharlal Nehru’s time, on issues such as Hindu personal law and land reforms. But party power soon became concentrated: Dissenting party leaders left the Congress, eventually leading to a proliferation of regional parties. Anti-defection laws only strengthened this trend after the 52nd amendment: Instead of one or two legislators leaving, an entire army would defect.

Some argue that dissent on policy votes, but not party defection, should be legal. It sounds reasonable, but what if a deeply unpopular prime minister cannot be voted out by his own party members, thanks to anti-defection provisions, yet is not able to pass any law because of now legalized dissent? Moreover, there is nothing undemocratic if legislators change party affiliation mid-way—they may simply be representing a changing grass-roots reality. Nonetheless, even a law that bans only defection, but not dissent, would still be a huge improvement over the status quo—and it is the need of the hour.

At the end of the day, allowing legislators to speak for themselves adds the right checks to our parliamentary democracy. These checks may slow decisions, but they also prevent many rash decisions and back-room dealings. The legislator must be allowed to represent his constituents and conscience, not his party bosses.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Incapability of the government to implement policies

The Centre has overriding powers to legislate on concurrent subjects and override almost any state legislation. Electricity is just one example, where both the Centre and the states have concurrent powers but centralising power will not improve effective implementation, writes SL Rao in the Deccan Herald.

The government’s inability to plan and implement any programme efficiently in India is an attribute common to all our administrative services at the Centre and states. Other institutions including independent regulatory commissions, self-regulating bodies like ICAI, educational and health service institutions and judiciary must share the blame.

The constitution has earmarked some activities purely to State governments or concurrently with the Centre. But the Centre has overriding powers to legislate on concurrent subjects and override almost any state legislation. Electricity is just one example, where both the Centre and the states have concurrent powers but centralising power will not improve effective implementation. State governments have politicised power tariffs and energy is priced below costs to farmers and others, in most of the states. Government and industry pay more, diverting resources from other social welfare programmes and infrastructure, while eroding competitiveness of the industry. If the Centre alone had the responsibility for electricity, it would be directly exposed to these pressures as are the states today.

The Centre uses incentives and overcomes legislative impediments to get states to act in socially desirable ways. The Accelerated Power Reform and Development Programme of the Centre provide substantial incentives to states pursuing power reforms. The ‘ultra mega power projects programme’ has enabled the Centre overcome state veto rights on new generation. Coal nationalisation was subverted by sanctioning captive coal mines to large electricity developers who can use surplus coal for merchant power plant operations.

The Central government is ineffective in implementing its own policies. Though electricity generation was opened to private and foreign investments in 1991, only Dhabhol by Enron fructified. It was mired in controversy caused by corruption and gold plating of costs. Transmission was opened to private investment in 1998 but Power Grid Corporation, the central government monopoly in interstate transmission, blocked the private entry for over seven years. The Centre could not give effect to its own legislation. State governments went along with the creation of electricity regulatory commissions, but have interfered in their working by packing them with pliant government officials.

The Electricity Act 2003 was to optimise power utilisation by mandating open access, captive generation, recognising trading, markets and power exchanges. It was to overcome the limitations on the sector’s growth and profitability imposed by the veto power of a state on new generators and their ability to sell to others than the state government distribution monopoly. Open access was the vital means to enable these. The Centre passively allowed the regulatory commissions and state governments to prevent open access. The states want to protect and protract their monopoly over the electricity sold in their boundaries. Some states (for example Karnataka) have used ambiguous provisions in the Act to prevent open access, preventing generating companies from selling electricity to customers in other states.

Electricity is merely one example of incapability of governments at all levels to implement polices. This occurs in every sphere of government activity. Long delays in planning and implementing infrastructure projects, inadequate thrust on education and its quality at all levels, inadequate health services for the poor, neglect of agriculture, inability to prepare and respond to security threats despite repeated incidents, the instances of poor administration permeate every sphere of government activity.

Read the full article here.

Analysing the voter behaviour

Why was the south Mumbai turnout worse than in South Delhi, both areas populated by the elite chatterati? explores Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in the Economic Times.

Why did voters in south Mumbai have a pathetic turnout at 42% whereas other areas in India recorded up to 90%? Why was the south Mumbai turnout worse than in South Delhi, both areas populated by the elite chatterati? There was much hand-wringing on TV channels when polling took place in Mumbai.

Many experts attributed low turnout to the alienation of the elite from the democratic process — the secession of the rich. Other experts extolled the virtues of the poor, who supposedly turned out in larger numbers. You see, said the experts, the poor really prize their vote, since it gives them power that they do not get from income, caste or class. And so the poor turn out in large numbers even as the urban middle class claims to be disgusted by the entire electoral spectacle and finds little reason to vote.

If we look at the data on voter turnout in all the states, we find that most theories about voting behaviour fail to hold water. It is not that rival theories suddenly appear. Rather, the range of voting turnout across states, and variations in the same state in different elections, is so large that it defeats any quick analysis.

Does the data of voter turnout validate the thesis that the well-off middle class has a poor turnout, while the poor turn out in huge numbers? Not at all. The lowest turnout in both 2004 and 2009 was in Jammu and Kashmir, a special case showing the continued alienation of the local people from the Indian mainstream. But the second lowest turnout of 44.3% in 2009 was in Bihar, our poorest state. And next lowest comes Uttar Pradesh, another very poor state, with a turnout of 47.2%.

The turnout in the National Capital Territory around Delhi was 51.8%, below the all-India average of 56.7%. But does that indicate the relative alienation of the urban middle class? Not at all. The turnout was as high as 65.0% in Chandigarh and 60.0% in Puducherry (which recorded a huge 76.07% turnout in 2004). So any quick generalisation about the urban middle class fails. Indeed, the variation in the turnout in Puducherry between 2004 (60.0%) and 2009 (76.07%) drives home the lesson that completely local phenomena, unrelated to any grand theories of class or caste behaviour, can create enormous variations in turnout.

Where was the turnout highest? For reasons that are far from evident, the north-east did very well, with Nagaland topping at 90.2%, and Tripura (83.9%), Sikkim (82.0%) and Manipur (73.9%) close behind. This cannot be explained in terms of caste, class or poverty. Nor can it be said that tribal areas have a high turnout — Jharkhand is close to the bottom, and Mizoram too (an exception to the north-eastern pattern, it recorded just 50.9%).

Among larger states, the Marxist strongholds of West Bengal and Kerala come out on top. The richest state in per capita income, Goa, recorded a turnout just below the national average in 2009 and just above it in 2004. No clear lesson here. The second richest state, Gujarat (47.9%) is near the bottom, sandwiched between two very poor states Rajasthan (48.5%) and UP (47.2%). No clear pattern here either.

Conclusion: we really do not know what drives voter turnout. The huge variations in the same state in different elections suggests that purely local phenomena produce major changes that have nothing to do with grand theories of how the rich and poor behave, or how various castes and classes behave. This is an unacceptable line for instant expert on TV (including myself). But experts need to stop taking themselves so seriously and so say, like Winnie the Pooh “nobody knows, tiddledy-pom.”

Maybe we should treat this issue as one of entertainment rather than class analysis. Here is an excellent example from the internet.
Ten reasons why South Mumbai did not vote
10. Clashed with Salsa class
9. Election whites not drycleaned
8. No candidate a hottie
7. Tony Jethmalani contesting from suburbs... Sigh
6. No valet parking at booth
5. Spotted servant in queue ahead of us
4. Driver did not come
3. Elections over dude, Obama won!
2. No party tackling real issues, eg, reduce Gold Gym rates
1. No home delivery!

Why Delhi turned up to vote

  1. They loved the Tata Tea ad
  2. They saw the Chopras go out, and thought they must overtake the Lancer from left
  3. Bunty’s girlfriend wanted to when they were going out for some Chinese
  4. Diwan Saheb on second floor persuaded them. He is jaaaint saactry in DPCC
  5. Without stable government, real estate will not revive
  6. Election Commission directly asked Pappu. So nice of them
  7. Grandfather started talking on Partition, and they had to run
  8. Auntyji hoped some TV crew will come and take a soundbite
  9. Baba Ramdev said it is good for health
    And finally,
  10. They had to beat the Bambaiyaas. Izzat ka sawaal hai, hainji?
Read the original story here.

Making sense of verdict 2009

Making sense of the intent behind the election results is a tricky exercise. In some senses, what we are seeing is a ripening of identity politics into a more complex, fractured and mature phenomenon. There are signs that while identity politics continues to flourish, there seems to be an evolution in how it comes into play, writes Santosh Desai in the Times of India.

As I argued last week in this column, making sense of the intent behind the election results is a tricky exercise. For elections in India are the only occasion when we understand the full import of what it means to be a country with over a billion people, for here everyone above 18 gets to participate.

In almost no other instance when we draw generalized conclusions are we compressing so much diversity into singularity. In this election, over 400 million people exercised their franchise; in effect we are trying to find something common across such a staggering number of data points. Attempts to find simple unifying explanations are thus fraught with danger; perhaps a more useful way of looking at a complex phenomenon like elections in India is to identify some broad themes which emerge from the outcome without necessarily explaining exactly why we saw the outcome we did. Even these are open to challenge in some cases and nuance in most.

In some senses, what we are seeing is a ripening of identity politics into a more complex, fractured and mature phenomenon. There are signs that while identity politics continues to flourish, there seems to be an evolution in how it comes into play. The success of regional players who have carved out constituencies based on identity affiliations and have so far practised a patronage-based system and direct rewards has led to the gradual increase in the number of such players. Regionalization has bred more regionalization, and this fracturing of the electoral base has cut into the vote share of the historically stronger regional parties.

We have seen this factor at play in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu, where the Shiv Sena, TDP and AIADMK have respectively lost seats on this account. The fragmentation of the vote base also means that the national parties seem to look more attractive, in relative terms. As vote share of regional parties gets distributed among a larger number of claimants, national parties stand to gain even if their vote share remains static.

The other emerging dimension of the evolution of identity politics is the recognition of the role played by governance. The delivery of some governance creates a demand for more and leads to an acknowledgement of the need for development to be broad-based and inclusive rather than focused on specific communities and groups.

Sops to identity clusters do not necessarily create widespread development and it appears that there might be some recognition of this. Nitish Kumar’s remarkable success points to the limits of Lalu Yadav’s stated belief that development does not win elections. However, this is by no means a negation of the power of identity; Mayawati may have lost seats but her vote share has increased. Writing her brand of politics off would be an act of wilful short-sightedness.

It would appear that continuity, more than stability, might have been the more important consideration in these elections. This is linked to the fact that all of India has begun to see some signs, however small, of progress. In the absence of a clear alternative, continuing with the existing regime becomes a default option. This is clearly by no means a defining theme but does contribute to the overall trend. Given this, parties need to communicate the appearance of an ability to govern, something the Congress might have done better this time thanks to the slant of their campaign and the collective personae of their leaders.

There is no reason to believe that national parties have regained favour with the voters, but it does seem that the Congress has been more successful in regaining its Centrist space to a certain extent this time around. This was probably due to the combined effect of being seen as relatively stronger as against the regional parties for reasons outlined above as well as its attempts to deliver on its promise of inclusive growth. The focus on rural India in its last five years created an aura of intention even if effect was not fully delivered.

Eventually, election campaigns get decoded as residues of stories; most of us, especially the uncommitted voters, don’t remember precise details or choose on the basis of specific issues as much as on a general sense of appropriateness. The Congress story seemed to have its heart in the right place, with the combination of actions, people, sounds it emitted with the structural forces on the ground multiplying the impact of this slant towards the party.

The return of any Centrist force is a significant development; it remains to be seen if this is indeed a trend or merely a local aberration. But it does seem as if the growing fragmentation of the polity and the attendant issues of the lack of a national perspective might not be quite the inexorable forces they seemed. That might well be the best news we have heard from these elections.

Read the original article here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The new government's agenda

...Unveiling the new government's agenda, the president said it would also give priority to boost urban employment and to battle recession.

"In 2004, my government had set before the country a vision of an inclusive society and an inclusive economy. My government sees the overwhelming mandate it has received as a vindication of the policy architecture that it put in place," Patil told a joint session of parliament, which met for the first time after the Lok Sabha elections brought back the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to power.

The president spelt out the policies and programmes of the Congress and its allies, highlighting that 10 areas would get top billing during Manmohan Singh's second tenure in office.

These include internal security, growth in agriculture and manufacturing, health and education, governance reform and energy security.

"A continuing priority of my government would be to consolidate the ongoing flagship programmes for inclusion. This will require re-energising government and improving governance," Patil said.


This will cover early passage of the Women's Reservation Bill providing one-third reservation for women, constitutional amendment to provide 50 percent reservation for women in Panchayats, strengthening the Right to Information, roadmap for judicial reforms in six months and a delivery monitoring unit in Prime Minister's office to monitor flagship programmes.

The president said a national counter-terrorism centre would be set up along with special forces and quick response teams. Intelligence sharing on real time basis would be created through a net-centric command structure.

On the economic front, the government's immediate focus would be on sectors that are adversely hit, especially small and medium enterprises, exports, textiles, commercial vehicles, infrastructure and housing.


Read the original article here.

Govt plans a slum free India in the next 5-year term

Over 15 lakh houses are under construction for the urban poor and there is a need to focus on urban housing programmes for the slum dwellers, reports the Indian Express.

The UPA government unveiled its plan for introducing Rajiv Awas Yojana for slum dwellers under JNNURM on the lines of Indira Awas Yojana for rural poor.

"The scheme for affordable housing through partnership and the scheme for interest subsidy for urban housing would be dovetailed into the Rajiv Awas Yojana which would extend support under JNNURM to states that are willing to assign property rights to people living in slum areas," President Pratibha Patil said while addressing Parliament.

"My government's effort would be to create a slum free India in five years through Rajiv Awas Yojana," she said.

Maintaining that infrastructure development under the flagship programme of JNNURM would continue, she said the government would continue to focus on infrastructure, basic services and governance reform and increase support to cities to upgrade public transport.

Over 15 lakh houses are under construction for the urban poor and there is a need to focus on urban housing programmes for the slum dwellers, she said.

"The JNNURM with approval of projects of nearly 50,000 crore in the last four years is reshaping our cities and has been widely welcomed," Patil said.

The government would take steps within the next 100 days to facilitate a voluntary technical corps of professionals in all urban areas through JNNURM to support the development activities.

Read the original article here.

Meira Kumar is India’s first woman Speaker

3 Jun 2009
As soon as the Lok Sabha session began, Sonia Gandhi proposed Meira Kumar as the Speaker of the new House. Not originally her party's choice, Kumar found strong support from the Congress leadership on two counts – a woman, she carries a rich dalit legacy, reports Times of India.

Congress candidate Meira Kumar was elected Speaker of the 15 th Lok Sabha unanimously on Wednesday.

As soon as the Lok Sabha session began, Sonia, according to the agenda, proposed Kumar as the Speaker of the new House. Her name was seconded by Leader of Opposition L K Advani and other political leaders. Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Advani then accompanied her to the Speaker's chair completing the formality.

With every side deciding to endorse her candidature, her election to the top post was a unanimous affair.
Kumar, who was part of the delegation visiting the secretary general, later termed her ascent to the Speaker's chair as a historic moment. "It is both historic and overwhelming," she told reporters. A five-time MP, she resigned as minister for water resources after Congress backed her for Speaker.

Not originally her party's choice, Kumar found strong support from the Congress leadership on two counts - a woman, she carries a rich dalit legacy.

Precisely for this reason, the BJP was reluctant to oppose her. For its part, the Opposition party moved a notch up in the game of identity politics by proposing a tribal – Karia Munda – for the deputy Speaker's post.

After Congress scored on the empowerment quotient naming Dalit woman leader Meira Kumar as UPA's nominee for the Speaker's post, BJP played the tribal card by selecting its veteran MP from Jharkhand Karia Munda as its candidate for Deputy Speaker.

BJP's central parliamentary board took the decision at a meeting after the government's proposal that the deputy Speaker's post be offered to the main Opposition.

Seventy two-year-old Munda was a minister in the Morarji Desai government and later in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee ministry. When asked whether Munda's candidature was aimed at winning tribal support for the party, BJP leader Jaitley said, "It is true that Munda belongs to the ST community, but along with that he has vast legislative experience and this decision was made considering his seniority."

Read the original article here.