ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Negative Returns of Ambivalence

Electoral Politics of the Farmers’ Movement, 1980-2014

Social movements that succeed in mobilising the masses subsequently attempt to institutionalise themselves. Moving from the domain of civil society into the realm of state politics, the leadership can change its goals and transformative priorities. This paper examines what happened to the farmers' movement (Shetkari Sanghatana) in Maharashtra between 1980 and 2014, especially after it decided to enter electoral politics and set up its own Swatantra Bharat Party. Probing its electoral performance, the paper tries to find out what happened to the mass movement, and explains why the farmers' movement that succeeded in mass mobilisation failed to convert mass support into electoral votes.

This article is based on the author’s presentation at the Thursday Fellow’s seminar at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, as a part of his National Fellowship work.

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