ElectionWatch: Indian PM rubbishes early-poll talk

The World

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress Party is tipped to walk softly during the negotiations for the next year's budget, following the party's humiliating losses in recent state elections. As the budget session began in parliament Monday, the party was expected to hang fire on a slew of so-called "big ticket" economic reforms Singh has been eying since his first term.

But he's not going anywhere, the perhaps too-humble de facto leader of the Congress Party said Monday, according to IANS. Dismissing rumors that the party's state election debacle may force an early national election, Singh said his United Progressive Alliance still had the numbers to retain power, even as the Samajwadi Party — an outside supporter of the government that hammered the Congress in the Uttar Pradesh polls — said it favors the idea of a "Third Front."  (In other words, a government formed without the Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party).

While Singh should be able to wheedle the budget through relatively easily, other legislation is likely to prove sticky, writes India Today. The food security bill, FDI in multi-brand retail, the land acquisition bill, the goods and services tax (GST), the pension bill, the communal violence bill, the national counter terrorism center and measures to create anti-corruption ombudsmen for the various states could all fall by the wayside.

And that could leave the Congress "staring at the prospect of another drubbing at the hustings — this time in the 2014 general elections," the magazine argues.

According to the Hindustan Times, the PM is already preparing to eat crow, so to speak, at a dinner for all the UPA allies Tuesday evening.

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