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

Articles By Ashutosh Kumar

An Outlier in the North

The most significant development of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Punjab was the victory of the Congress, making the state an outlier in almost all of India, except for Kerala. Neither the Bharatiya Janata Party’s narrative of national security nor its strong leader could find much traction in the state. The significant loss of the core social constituency’s (read the Sikhs) support of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the decline or almost decimation of the Aam Aadmi Party were important developments of this election.

Exploring the Demand for New States

The increasing demand for new states raises a number of questions with regard to the well-being of India's federal democratic polity. There are four measures that must be considered while devising any framework to address the issue of federal reorganisation. These are: the constitution of a permanent State Reorganisation Commission, amendment of the Constitution to ensure that the demand for a new state emanates from the state legislature and not at the centre, examination of economic and social viability rather than political considerations and clear-cut safeguards to encourage democratic concerns like development and governance rather than religion, caste and language as valid grounds for a new state.

Punjab: Resurgence of the Congress

The Congress improved significantly on its electoral performance in Punjab as compared to the previous Lok Sabha elections. The slender lead in terms of votes polled enabled the Congress to march ahead of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine in terms of the number of seats won. The inability of the Bahujan Samaj Party to mobilise the dalit vote also helped the Congress which has had a relatively good support base amongst the dalits in different religions. The Congress also benefited from the gradual slide of the left parties, its erstwhile electoral allies.

Dissonance between Economic Reforms and Democracy

The story of recent electoral democracy in India is one of a paradox. Most political parties affirm the necessity of economic reforms. Yet, this affirmation belies support for the same among large sections of the populace, particularly the poor. Even more paradoxical is the fact that political parties, despite their emphasis on policies related to the economy in their respective manifestos, tend to rely on identity issues for mobilisation. This article tries to explain the reasons for this puzzle.