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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 14:49 GMT
Resignation stirs Indian press
Peter Mandelson at Downing St
Mr Mandelson's resignation has raised Indian interest
The resignation of Peter Mandelson from the British Government over the Hinduja passport affair has made front page news in India.

Most newspapers focused on the close ties between Mr Mandelson and the billionaire Indian brothers.

Mandelson along with Tony Blair dined with Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja at their central London address

Indian Express
The Indian Express said that Mr Mandelson's careful cultivation of the Hindujas was noticed by the British Indian community some years ago.

"The process of the Hindujas wooing New Labour and New Labour wooing the Hindujas goes back [to]... before the 1997 general election.

"As New Labour prepared for government, making friends was big business, and Mandelson along with Tony Blair dined with Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja at their central London address.

"This fact went unreported until recently, when links between the Hindujas and New Labour were delved into following Srichand Hinduja's acceptance as a British subject," the Express said.

Cross-party links

The Times of India said the focus was now shifting to the Hindujas' links with leading members of other political parties.

Srichand Hinduja
Focus on Srichand Hinduja's passport application
"The Hinduja brothers... reportedly involved leaders from all three political parties, Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

"But all three parties are now seeking to distance themselves from the issue of granting of British nationality to Srichand Hinduja," the Times said.

"The multi-party approach of the Hindujas has clearly embarrassed all three parties," it added.

The Hindu reported that the Mandelson-Hinduja passport row had "escalated into a full-blown political crisis".

The multi-party approach of the Hindujas has clearly embarrassed all three parties

The Times of India
It pointed out that Mr Mandelson had initially said he had no direct role in speaking to a junior minister in the home office over Mr Hinduja's application.

"A reconstruction of the sequence of events, however, pointed to a more direct link between the Hindujas' offer of the donation in February 1998 and the minister's intervention three months later," The Hindu said.

'Political outcry'

The Statesman said Mr Mandelson triggered a political outcry when he allegedly changed his version of events on what he had reportedly said on Sunday.

Describing Mr Mandelson as the prime minister's closest political ally, it said he announced his resignation shortly after a two-hour meeting with Tony Blair.

The Pioneer said Mr Mandelson had been facing mounting anger over his involvement in Mr Hinduja's citizenship application.

"Mr Mandelson insisted in a round of television interviews that he had done nothing wrong in connection with the application by Mr Srichand Hinduja," The Pioneer said.

But, "many newspapers accused Mr Mandelson of failing to tell the truth about the matter after he first denied personally contacting another British minister over the passport application and then admitting that he had, in fact, done so," the newspaper said.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hinduja 'did not seek favours'
25 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Blair acts over Mandelson affair
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hinduja brothers: Wealthy and reclusive
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