The world was greeted by news out of the subcontinent which were peculiarly related. First was the news of the results of the Indian elections, in which the Congress Party won re-election, and the victory of the Sri Lankan Army over the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam, who had waged an insurgency for decades, and who had intervened at the end of the 1991 election campaign to prevent Rajiv Gandhi from returning to office, thus making him the first head of Congress not to return to office since Independence. At that time an exception, it was to become a rule broken only by this election. One of the most striking features of the difference of the past and the present is that the Congress and its opposition have both discovered the value of alliances. For the second election in a row, and for the first time ever, Congress has not won on its own, but at the head of an alliance, the United Progressive Alliance. Its opposition has also won as an alliance rather than as a single party, which was how it originally contested, back in 1977. However, the Janata Dal of those days became the Bharatiya Janata Party of later elections, and Indian parties began to retain their identities. The BJP headed an alliance government, since it had not won enough seats to rule on its own, and went into the 1998 elections at the head of the National Democratic Alliance, which it led when it formed the government after the election. However, unlike other parties, Congress did not start as a platform for a particular personality. However, by partition, it had been taken over by Motilal Nehru, whose son Jawaharlal became India's first prime minister, and who would lead it in all subsequent general elections into the 1960s. His daughter Indira Gandhi and grandson Rajiv would lead it into the 1990s. Both daughter and grandson died violent deaths, paying for India's insurgencies and involvement's abroad. Indira was gunned down by her Sikh bodyguards, while her son Rajiv was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber as the 1991 campaign ended. Since then, Congress has been bereft of a Gandhi to lead it, even though Rajiv's widow Sonia has accepted the party presidency, but her refusal to be prime minister has meant that the tradition begun by P V Narasimha Rao, of a non-Gandhi PM whenever a Congress government is formed, was continued by Dr Manmohan Singh, who had been his finance minister. Dr Singh has been re-selected as prime minister, and Rajiv's son Rahul is expected to be included in his Cabinet, and it is already being speculated that he will become leader of the party and head of government. However, though the Congress is still a family vehicle, Dr Singh must have run his government better than Rao, who lost in the next election, and let the BJP come to power. The BJP practised a politics of pushiness that Congress had made familiar, but had moderated somewhat under Rao. It played the communal card domestically, and Vajpayee succeeded in winning a second term after calling an early election after the Kargil crisis on the basis of anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan sentiment. The Singh government tried to focus on the economy, but India continued to be the neighbourhood bully. However, Dr Singh managed one major achievement, the signing of the nuclear co-operation deal with the USA. This deal was torpedoed by the Left Front, which saw it as a surrender of Indian sovereignty, and which was the grouping without which the PDA could not hope to govern. However, now Congress can rule without the Left Front, and the nuclear deal should go through. The nuclear deal was on offer to a Congress government because it has always been a pro-British party, disinclined to the American alliance, even though the Nehrus-Gandhis, starting with Jawaharlal, have all studied at Oxford or Cambridge, and have had a more than nodding acquaintance with the British elite. Jawaharlal's Fabianism also led him to a close acquaintanceship with those who went on to become leading Labour figures. The USA was clearer than the UK about the need for a regional policeman, a role in which both Iran's Shah and various Pakistani rulers wanted to fit, but the USA plumped on India under the BJP against China. However, under Dr Singh, both Congress and the USA realised that they needed one another against China, and the alliance system is set to change. The big achievement of the current tenure is supposed to be the US nuclear deal. Pakistan has not obtained such a deal from the USA, and its only hope for one comes from France. If it does not mature, then it would leave India as the only regional power with dual-use technology. It would be appropriate for this shift of course to occur under a Congress-led government. India has come under the American umbrella in the sense that elections do not matter to the USA, because whoever wins is theirs. Apart from the ultimate fate of the nuclear deal, there is the question of Kashmir, as well as of relations with Pakistan generally. The USA would like an Indo-Pak settlement, though not necessarily one which will settle the Kashmir dispute according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people as determined by a plebiscite, which is the present Pakistani official position. India under Dr Singh too would like a settlement, but on Indian terms alone. To that extent, India would view the end of the Sri Lankan insurgency as having an effect, for it removes an issue from Tamil Nadu politics, and was one reason for the development of Tamil regionalist politics, which translated into national politics, as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, under Jayalalitha, joined the Congress' PDA, and the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, under Muthuvel Karunanidhi, joined the BJP's NDA. The influence of Tamil cinema is immense. Jayalalitha was initially a film star, and inherited the DMK from M G Ramchandran, who had been a film actor. Even Karunanidhi spent sometime as a scriptwriter. However, these film personalities were also bogged down in state-level issues, apart from their support for the secessionist movement in Sri Lanka. The Tamils there looked to their co-ethnics in the mainland for support. It was Rajiv's increasing involvement in the Tamil insurgency that first led to his being attacked by a Sri Lankan soldier, and finally his assassination by suicide bomber just before the declaration of the 1991 election result, in which not only was Congress returned to office, but he was elected to the Lok Sabha. The end of the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka means that there will be an increased focus on any militant activity in Kashmir. One cause of terror in a violent region has been settled, and there will be less attention paid to the many insurgencies plaguing India and the region. In this context, the end of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal should also be factored in. This is not a good time for the Kashmiris and their supporters, unless they are willing to abandon the support of the international community.