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

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Examining Electoral Data

An Enquiry into People’s Preferences of Communist Parties in West Bengal and Kerala

West Bengal and Kerala are often juxtaposed under a common communist identity in most scholarly and policy discourse. We deconstruct these linkages by looking at election result data in these states in the past five decades. Our observations indicate that (i) the assumed supremacy of communist preference in the two states must be diluted, and (ii) the tendency to put both states in the same political basket must be revisited. Since election data are a direct reflection of the people’s preferences, this paper adds an important contribution to the literature by looking at the demand side of the political market.

The authors thank Paavani Pegatraju for her excellent research assistance.

Discourse on the politics of West Bengal and Kerala is varied and rich, attracting interdisciplinary scholars from multiple disciplines to opine on issues of social importance. A vast portion of this literature, however, engages with both the states together, either in a comparative fashion or in a discursive manner. Seminal work has been done on West Bengal (or Kerala) alone, yet the likelihood of finding the two states lumped up in the same research question, under the umbrella of the same title, is predictably high. In fact, it is rare to witness a scholar present her findings on Kerala in a conference and not be asked a question about West Bengal (or the other way around). Scholars across the world in the past two to three decades have often viewed the two states with some sort of intellectual homogeneity. In many ways, West Bengal and Kerala are two sides of the same theoretical coin in social science research: if you bring about one, the other will follow, implicitly or explicitly.

This does not mean that the two states are regarded similar in all important sociopolitical aspects. Social scientists are mindful of the underlying differences between the two states, and the literature is persuasive enough to point out the significant differences between the two states. Yet the policy obsession to view the two states together remains.

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Updated On : 7th Sep, 2018
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