India's New Ruler

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If difficulty governing France, as legend has it, derives from its more than 400 types of cheese, pity the Indian politician who has to rule a nation with easily as many deities. That politician, for now, is Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who will be at the mercy of the fractious and often self-serving regional parties whose votes guarantee his majority. Vajpayee was prime minister for 13 days in 1996, and this time the pundits donít give him more than a year. Just enough time for Sonia Gandhi to build up a head of steam at the helm of the Congress Partyís campaign.