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

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The Emergence of ‘New’ Politics

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The contemporary trend in Indian politics is marked by two qualitatively different aspects. These aspects could be described as politics of exceptionalism and an exceptional politics. Politics of exceptionalism is different from exceptional politics in two different senses. One, it involves rhetorical accommodation of some members from the marginalised groups into “opportunity structures” controlled by dominant political forces. This form of accommodation is exceptional in terms of its paradox that makes accommodation both undesirable as well as unavoidable. Two, politics of exceptionalism can also be understood at another level, where some of the self-righteous political actors view minority appeasement and the vote bank as constitutive of exceptionalism. Such a form of exceptionalism, on moral grounds, is seen as undesirable inasmuch as it, in their belief, violates the norms that regulate formal politics. Put differently, it is believed that it is necessary to follow norms that otherwise get undermined by the “objectification” of people into a vote bank or in a “game” of appeasement. Exceptional politics, on the other hand, can be defined in terms of the autonomy that a group demonstrates in taking political initiative in order to constitutionally resist such an accommodation.

In this context, it is important to note that both these forms of exceptionalism have been perceptively captured in an expression such as “politics as usual” that has been dealt with in the article by Ghazala Jamil (“Who Can Represent Muslims in Electoral Politics? Debates in the Muslim Public Sphere” [EPW Engage, 27 April 2019]). Jamil, in her article, raises several points that highlight the importance of political initiatives taken particularly by the Muslim youth in India. She convincingly argues that “politics as usual,” which also figures in the debate on Muslim politics, is indicative of the political impasse that has adversely entangled the Muslim political discourse. Such an observation, however, is symptomatic of a larger political scenario that concerns the entire spectrum of the politics of marginalised communities in India.

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Updated On : 20th May, 2020

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