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

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India’s Second Dominant Party System

The conflation between nationalism and Hindutva has been the backbone of the new hegemony. That is why the Bharatiya Janata Party has been so happy with intellectuals trying to problematise the nation. That particular intellectual initiative simultaneously places the BJP in a position of immense advantage and ensures that “anti-BJP” would necessarily be equated with the anti-national! Independently, both ideas—Hindutva and development—are potent political discourses. By weaving them together with nationalism, Narendra Modi has bound them into an arsenal of his political offensive.

(This article was earlier posted in the Web Exclusives section of EPW website.)

Assembly elections were held in five states in India in February–March but the news and discussions are predominantly centred on the results in one state—Uttar Pradesh (UP). Not only political observers and poll analysts, but even ministers in the Narendra Modi government are busy describing the historic significance of the UP outcome.

The UP poll results indeed underline what many have refused to recognise in the last three years—the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the central force in India’s politics. In a sense, then, the surprise is partly situated in the inability or unwillingness to read the indications of an emerging polity. Suddenly, everyone seems to have awakened to that inevitability and to taking lessons in political science from ministers in the present government. While there is no point denying the effect this present moment may have on the future course of competitive politics and democracy in India, it is necessary to put the outcomes in perspective, at the risk of reducing the dramatic for the prosaic and perhaps being “petty”! So let us first move away from the extraordinary and take stock of the more mundane—and yet important—features of the outcome.

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Updated On : 30th Mar, 2017
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