Is ‘development’ the new election issue?

The socialist wrestler Mulayam Singh Yadav has brought on board Nandan Nilekani, Ramdas Pai, Prathap Reddy, Anil Ambani, Adi Godrej, Subroto Roy ‘Sahara’ and Amitabh Bachchan on his UP Development Council. Two mega projects were announced; a 3500 MW power plant (US$2 billion) and a 50-township housing project (US$ 4 billion).

I’m sure Reliance is capable of delivering on Anil Ambani’s schedule of completing the power plant within 3 years. Still, announcements of such grand projects should always be taken with a healthy dose of scepticism, and more so when they relate to Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam Singh is a savvy political operator and does sense which way the electoral winds are blowing. That he has chosen to burnish his ‘development’ credentials is heartening. Will Election 2004 be fought over the issue of economic development?