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

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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.

India's 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

A clear majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha and its spread across most states in the 2014 general elections marks a departure from the electoral outcomes of almost a quarter century. The BJP's success was made possible, among other factors, due to its electoral strategy of reinventing social engineering in what may be termed as its second transformation. As a result, it secured significant support among the Other Backward Classes as well as scheduled caste and scheduled tribe voters to gain a winning edge. Besides this, its promise of development and the projection of Modi as a strong and decisive leader attracted support among the lower and middle classes. This will have far-reaching implications to the structure of party competition in the coming years and shape the post-Congress polity. However, enthusiastic over-readings of the mandate would pose a challenge to the BJP even as it searches for ways to entrench itself as a dominant national party in India.

The Defeat of the Congress

The Congress Party's defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections reflected not just its failure to retain its vote shares of the previous polls in 2004 and 2009, but also the lack of a clear social profile of its voters. Most social sections had deserted the party (barring the Muslims) as its long-term decline from being India's grand old party was evident in these elections. The lack of adequate leadership and confusion in its ranks played an important role, but there were other systemic reasons for the Congress's defeat.

Gandhi-Ambedkar Interface

Gandhian and Ambedkarian discourses are not antithetical. Both are concerned with the issue of emancipation. At present when the legitimacy of the emancipatory discourse is being challenged and the dominant discourse upholds capitalism, it is all the more essential to broaden the scope of Gandhian and Ambedkarian discourses.

GoPu and the Marathi Intellectual World

Govind Purushottam Deshpande enjoyed multiple identities – literally. In the professional academic world of Delhi where he made his career, he was always known as GPD (and this is also how he is known to readers of his EPW columns); and in the Marathi world, both of theatre and ideas, he was known...

Of Radical Democracy and Anti-Partyism

The populist notions that underlie critiques of the practice of representative democracy made by groups like the Aam Aadmi Party have some worrisome aspects. Their ideas of expanding the democratic involvement of citizens are not only romantic, they also tend to undermine political equality. The question that supporters of such "more democracy" need to ask themselves is, do we want to expand democratic rights but effectively restrict their scope?

Quality in Higher Education: Complex Issues, Superficial Solutions

New rules on admissions to doctoral programmes in Indian universities will produce a new bureaucratic maze, but are unlikely to ensure production of better quality research.

In the Midst of Sub-Democratic Politics

The apparent resurgence of Marathi nativist politics in and over Mumbai has to be understood in the specific context of the city's history, as well as the larger one of how democratic politics in India has dealt with the issue of diversity inside the nation. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena build on practices of linguistic localism in India and it requires more than the mere legalism of constitutional rights to understand and fight it.


There were two factual errors in the piece “Maharashtra Polls: Continuity amidst Social Volatility” (EPW, 28 November) which we wish to correct: (i) In Table 1, the figure for candidates contesting on the BVA ticket should be 4 (instead of 2 as shown), and (ii) in Table 5, the figure for NCP in the...

Maharashtra Polls: Continuity amidst Social Volatility

The outcome of the Maharashtra assembly elections of 2009 cannot be associated with any particular moment in the history of the state's politics; nor can it be attributed to the organisational prowess of the ruling alliance. The second consecutive electoral victory of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance is an outcome of four factors: the overall favourable political atmosphere created by the Congress' performance nationally in the Lok Sabha elections, the utter ineffectiveness of the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine coupled with their internal party factionalism, the rise of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in urban constituencies, and a perception that the state government had not done a bad job.

Between Fortuna and Virtu: Explaining the Congress' Ambiguous Victory in 2009

Election 2009 saw a comprehensive triumph for the United Progressive Alliance. But the initial impression of an overwhelming mandate for the Congress needs to be corrected. A close scrutiny of the outcome shows that the Congress "victory" was ambiguous and owed a lot to movements that were not of its making. Shifts in the "third electoral system" worked against the politics of identity and made the quality of government an issue. The Bharatiya Janata Party's inability to hold on to its new social bloc resulted in a depolarisation that benefited the Congress. The victory of the Congress also came about because the voters had a mildly positive image of its governance record and welfare measures. Yet in the end this verdict was more about politics than chance. A shrinking of the National Democratic Alliance, a positive image of the upa government and its leadership gave the ruling coalition a decisive lead before the campaign formally began.

Tentative Emergence of a New and Tentative Coalition?

Many myths have begun to be propagated about Verdict 2009 but in order to even begin to make sense of the outcome, we must employ the filter of state specificity, remind ourselves of the eminently "normal" nature of the election and appreciate the strength of middle-of-the-road politics. More than the recovery of the Congress, the tentative coalition of the middle classes and the poor that seems to have tentatively emerged could arrest the onward march of various politics of exclusion and bring the poor back into the policy consciousness of our polity - to the extent this is possible within a liberal democratic framework.


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