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Party with a Difference?

From adopting winnability as the core principle of nominating candidates to removing political appointees of the previous government, and in dealing with governments of opposition parties, the behaviour of the Bharatiya Janata Party has been so much like the Congress that the latter would rejoice in the assurance that there is no mukti from its ways and manners. The crucial difference between the BJP and other parties is that it is able to instil a sense of destiny not just among its rank and file but also the general public and convince it that the party is doing desh seva while others have been doing only politics.

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.

India’s Second Dominant Party System

The conflation between nationalism and Hindutva has been the backbone of the new hegemony. That is why the BJP 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. Therefore, the coming times would be less about electoral victories and more about the onward march of this hegemony in the realm of popular imagination; about how democracy shapes up in Modi’s new India.

Interpreting the Mandate in Jammu and Kashmir

Congress in the Times of the post-Congress Era

Behind the dramatic demise of the Congress in 2014 is a long history dating back to the 1970s and 1980s. The Congress has often chosen to ignore those deeper reasons for its recent decline. Similarly, the failure of the Congress as also its possible strengths become evident only when we disaggregate the decline of the party state-wise. This leads to a curious but useful pointer-- the party may have to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in states where it is locked in a bipolar contest with the BJP in order to create political space for itself. Above all, this paper argues that more than the leadership issue, the factors responsible for the decline of the Congress are the organisational neglect and complete abdication of politics. The paper then maps the challenges and limitations facing the Congress, particularly in its third life, the phase of survival.

Ambedkar and Gandhi

B R Ambedkar and M K Gandhi thought through different paradigms and spoke in different frameworks. As the study of ideas and political thinking in India departs from a simplistic straitjacketing based on literal accounts, we do not have to fall into the trap of sitting in judgment on key figures. This article points out that it might be much more rewarding if ideas and thinkers are studied through interpretative lenses. Such exercises will allow us to make a choice between a conversation and a closure of ideas.

Maharashtra Assembly Elections

The dominance of Maharashtra's politics by the Congress and the Maratha elite had been weakening since 1995, and the triumph of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party in the assembly elections seems to have finally brought it to an end. Who among the contenders - the Nationalist Congress Party, the Shiv Sena, the BJP, and a Maratha elite now at a distance from both power and its community - will occupy the space vacated by the Congress? More than the defeat of the Congress and the NCP, what marks a new era for the politics of the state is the desertion of Maratha voters from the two Congress parties. In the present scenario, the BJP seems poised to pick its leaders in the state and build a social coalition that will stand by it for some time to come.

Farewell to Maratha Politics?

The dominance of Maharashtra’s politics by the Congress and the Maratha elite had been weakening since 1995, and the triumph of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party in the assembly election seems to have finally brought it to an end. . Who among the contenders -- the Nationalist Congress Party, the Shiv Sena, the BJP, and a Maratha elite now at a distance from both power and its community -- will occupy the space vacated by the Congress? More than the defeat of the Congress and NCP, what marks a new era for the politics of the state is the desertion of Maratha voters from the two  Congress parties.  In the present scenario, the BJP seems poised to pick its leaders in the state and build a social coalition that will stand by it for some time to come.

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