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

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Y D Phadke (1931-2008): Scholar and Public Intellectual

Noted historian, intellectual and activist Y D Phadke who passed away on January 11, wrote in Marathi to make his work accessible to Marathi readers though he was fluent in English. Sadly, the vast body of his acclaimed research and writings has not received critical examination in the Marathi public sphere.

Beyond Uttar Pradesh

Will dalit politics across the country see a resurgence following the Bahujan Samaj Party's victory in Uttar Pradesh? While this depends on the political situation in specific states, the BSP's victory gives a new meaning to the category of 'sarva samaj' in redefining caste alignments for future electoral competition. At the same time, the BSP's victory poses a serious challenge to the two coalitions at the national level, the National Democratic Alliance and the United Progressive Alliance.

Maharashtra: Shiv Sena's Dilemmas

The Shiv Sena's recent electoral defeats, followed soon after by Raj Thackeray's resignation, have only added to the party's existential dilemmas. While the battle for party leadership is now in the open, more urgent is the need to reach a resolution between the Sena's long-standing credo of street action and the more recent demands imposed on the party by electoral politics.

Democracy as Weapon of the Weak

Democracy as Weapon of the Weak What India Has Done to Democracy Who Wants Democracy? by Javeed Alam; Tracts for the Time Series, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 2004;

Maharashtra : Towards a New Party System

Maharashtra went to the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in quick succession giving us the rare opportunity to compare changes or continuities in the public mood over a period of six months. If the Lok Sabha elections underscored the inevitability of coalition politics in the state, the assembly polls opened up a multi-level competition across regions and among different social sections. The present indeterminacy of the social bases of parties is an indication of this transformation of the party system in the state.

Participatory Norm: How Broad-based Is It?

Diversification of voters is not matched by a broadening of the social base of participants in politics. Active participants are still from the more privileged sections of society, with education and class being the determining factors. And although the OBCs have made an entry into active politics in recent years, dalits, adivasis, women and the poor still remain largely at the periphery. Thus, participation of more people in politics, as evidenced in recent elections, does not automatically ensure the entry of the less privileged sections into the political process.

Majoritarian Middle Ground?

The BJP's 'defeat' in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections has been seen, albeit mistakenly, as a setback for communal forces. But though the BJP did not emphasise the 'Hindutva' issue during its campaign, as surveys cited in this article indicate, there is already some 'polarisation' among the electorate, with religion often deciding voter-preference. Moreover, the new 'middle ground' of Indian politics - shaped by commonly-held notions among the populace as to what constitutes a 'nation' and how it should be governed - reveals that sections of the populace are increasingly more 'expressively religious' and also attached to respective group identities. At the same time, this 'middle ground' traverses a very complex terrain and thereby defies any straitjacketing into 'secular' or 'communal'.

Issues in an Issue-less Election

The electoral scene in Maharashtra is characterised by issue-less ad hocism rather than discussion of viable policy alternatives. The focus is on district level rivalries, with political parties no more than mere labels. For their part, the two coalitions have indulged in populist extravagance without addressing welfare in any manner.

Revisiting State Level Parties

Today, on the eve of the elections to the 14th Lok Sabha we are witnessing a very competitive party system. While the decline of the Congress can be seen as a moment of 'opening up' of party competition it has also brought with it a convergence among the competitors that obfuscates the advantages of the openness. Does it then mean that the moment of opening up is also constitutive of a closure? The following collection of articles may help in resolving this riddle. The articles, revisiting the phenomenon of state level parties, attempt to locate the new spaces created by them and the effects of their accommodation within the framework of all-India competition.

Shiv Sena: A Tiger with Many Faces?

The expansion of Shiv Sena took place in the 1980s and it shot to prominence at the national level in the 1990s. The last two decades have witnessed the rise of Shiv Sena as an important political force in Maharashtra. What does the Shiv Sena stand for? Is it a narrow, parochial, 'Marathi' organisation? Is it a militant Hindu communal organisation? Does it represent the revolt of the lower middle classes? Is it a network of culture guards, or is it an expression of cultural populism. This paper seeks to trace this evolution of Shiv Sena and the political and organisational context in which Shiv Sena operates.

India and China:Comparative Perspectives

India and China: Comparative Perspectives Crossing a Bridge of Dreams: 50 Years of India-China edited by G P Deshpande and Alka Acharya; Tulika, New Delhi, 2001; pp 538, Rs 750

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