Jeffrey LewisGo Sonia! Congress wins in India. Bush will blow it, again.

The Hindu natonalist (BJP) government of Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has fallen. The Congress party (led by Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi) won a surprise victory in India/’s elections and is expected to form a coalition government with its electoral allies.

Add this to the list of reasons to vote for John Forbes Kerry and a Democratic Senate: The BJP was the driving force behind India/’s nuclear program (the May 1998 nuclear tests were widely seen as an effort to boost the government/’s popularity). Congress has pledged to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty –on condition of “progress towards global nuclear disarmament” i.e. the 13 steps over which the Bush Administration collapsed the NPT PrepCom. Congress has been tougher about signing the CTBT, but Sonia/’s late husband campaigned actively for the measure and even the BJP was moving toward buckling under pressure until the Bush people dropped the test ban.

Given rumors about possible bilateral confidence building measures between India and Pakistan, including a regional ban on nuclear testing, the Bush Administration has an historic opportunity to mend a major hole in the global nonproliferation regime. Anybody think W is up to the task?