The Straits Times
Published on Nov 18, 2012

India's fragile government faces stormy parliament


NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's fragile government heads into what promises to be a stormy new parliament session this week, fighting to keep its reform agenda on track while dodging attempts to force fresh elections.

The government's decision in September to raise fuel prices and allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector ended months of policy drift but provoked fierce protests from allies, opposition parties and trade unions.

Amid the outcry, the coalition led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lost its majority when the regional Trinamool Congress walked out, leaving it dependent on outside parties whose backing in parliament is not guaranteed.

The push for pro-market reforms comes as the government faces a slowing economy, a ballooning fiscal deficit and stubbornly high inflation which have piled pressure on the left-leaning Congress party-dominated alliance.