A+| A| A-

Understanding Autonomous Politics


In the contemporary articulation of electoral politics, one witnesses two rather abnormal trends: assimilation and autonomy. Arguably, the assimilative trend is invariably associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party that takes pride in gathering into its fold leaders from other parties. The BJP, thus, confirms its parliamentary character with a political phenomenon that involves a high-profile movement of opportunist elites who move from top to top. It is a horizontal movement that defines democracy in a particular “majestic” way. On the other side of the spectrum, one also notices leaders who claim to represent the deprived sections which continue to remain at the bottom; they use political autonomy as the plank for the electoral mobilisation of these sections. These leaders keep making the usual political decision of fighting elections independently as “autonomous” political entities. However, the claims to autonomous politics lead one to develop genuine scepticism. One begins to wonder as to how much such claims to autonomy conceal and how much they reveal.

These autonomy claims reveal the assertions that are made with confidence to capture political power through political formations that are produced almost instantly at the time of elections. To be fair to these leaders, one may consider the point that they may have been guided by their inner sense of being right and on the side of the people from the margins. Hence, such decisions may be correct in the views of these representatives. However, the decisions to contest elections outside the grand alliance of the forces opposing the ruling party and also to contest from more than one constituency, demand scrutiny on three major grounds. First, on pragmatic grounds, the decision to contest from more than one constituency betrays the rational assessment of the electoral strength of such parties. Arguably, old and new political formations that were floated by these leaders on the eve of elections do not have decisive electoral strength that is evenly distributed across several constituencies. These representatives base their decision to contest in multiple places on a weak basis; that of wanting to retain their narrow electoral basis, especially among their customary voters in all these constituencies.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 1st Oct, 2019


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top