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Friday, 15 October, 1999, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Fresh challenges for Vajpayee
Mr Vajpayee will be sworn in by the President on Wednesday
Mr Vajpayee will be sworn in by the President on Wednesday
By South Asia Analyst Alastair Lawson

Mr Vajpayee has numerous pressing problems requiring urgent attention, not least the threat of a lorry drivers' strike, following the decision earlier this month to raise the price of diesel by 40%.

Indian Elections 99
Full results

The drivers are angry at the implementation of what they say is the steepest ever rise in the price of diesel.

The increase was introduced at a controversial time - just after voting had finished in the election. Any industrial action by the lorry drivers is likely to be highly disruptive, because most food and perishable goods in India are transported by road.

Ominously perhaps for Mr Vajpayee, the truckers have received some sympathy from at least two key supporters of his coalition - the Telugu Desam Party and the Trinamool Congress.

On the economy, Mr Vajpayee's priority will be to bring some degree of financial stability. He will be eager to carry on with India's liberalisation process - possibly by opening up the insurance sector to foreign investment and by privatising unwieldy public sector industries.

However, he will have to tread carefully.

Many right-wing elements of his coalition oppose liberalisation, as do some of India's powerful trade unions.

Defence

Turning to defence, Mr Vajpayee will want to carry on modernising the military. India will no doubt continue buying arms and equipment from abroad.

Modernising the military is a key priority
Modernising the military is a key priority
The prime minister is said by some commentators to be relieved that the American parliament appears to have delayed signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Given India's recent tensions with Pakistan, the prime minister is no doubt grateful that international pressure will not be brought to bear on India to sign until Washington has itself ratified the treaty.

On the Kashmir question, Mr Vajpayee had seemed keen for Pakistan to come forward with proposals for dialogue.

However, the recent military takeover there has created a climate of uncertainty, and raised the prospect of fresh tensions. Domestic issues

Mr Vajpayee will no doubt have numerous domestic problems on his hands, including the issue of reservations for women in parliament.

A need to focus on some of India's pressing problems
A need to focus on some of India's pressing problems
This has been a perennial question for successive Indian governments, but so far no administration has been able to come up with a formula acceptable to parliament that will guarantee women are given a pre-determined number of seats.

The prime minister also says he wants to introduce measures that would stop members of small parties swapping sides and thereby forcing a general election.

Foreign affairs, too, is likely to figure prominently in the prime minister's agenda. Within the next year both the Pope and President Clinton are likely to be paying him a visit.

Both will no doubt be drawing his attention to attacks by Hindu hardliners on members of India's minority Christian community .

See also:

08 Oct 99 | South Asia
07 Oct 99 | South Asia
07 Oct 99 | South Asia
08 Oct 99 | South Asia
10 Oct 99 | South Asia
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