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

A+| A| A-

Making Sense of the Manipur Assembly Election Results

It is argued that it would be naïve to explain the Bharatiya Janata Party’s success as a wholehearted endorsement of its Hindutva agenda as there are substantial local reservations on this. Unlike Uttar Pradesh or other parts of North India where it aggressively pushed its Hindutva agenda, the BJP knows the limitation of this agenda and has instead used a combination of strategies like the promise of development and peaceful settlement of armed conflicts. These electoral strategies intersect with and are driven by a set of factors that, in turn, determine the BJP’s success: first, the increasing electoral insignificance of the Congress, and second, the continuing salience of complex and cross-cutting social cleavages.

 

The author gratefully acknowledges the help of Sonia Basumatary, research assistant of the ICSSR IMPRESS project. He thanks the ICSSR for its generous funding. The 12th Manipur assembly results mark the consolidation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the diminished electoral significance of the Congress. In terms of the sheer number of seats won, the BJPs performance is spectacular as it secured 32 seats in the 60-member assembly, the first time for the BJP and only the second time any party has managed to secure a majority on its own in the electoral history of Manipur.1 This is remarkable given that in the nine assembly elections it participated in since 1984, the BJP managed to secure seat(s) only on five occasions. While its performance in the first three was insignificant as it could barely manage to secure one, six, four seats in the 1995, 2000, 2002 elections with a vote share of 3.35%, 11.28%, 9.55%, respectively, its performance substantially improved in 2017 when it secured 21 seats with a vote share of 36.28% (Tables 1a and 1b, p 20). The BJP consolidated this feat in the 2022 election by securing 32 seats with a 37.83% vote share in Manipur.

What explains the BJPs success? In this article, I argue that it would be nave to explain the BJPs success as a wholehearted endorsement of its Hindutva agenda as there are substantial local reservations on this. Unlike Uttar Pradesh or other parts of North India where it aggressively pushed its Hindutva agenda, the BJP knows the limitation of this agenda in Manipur in particular and in the North East in general. This impels it to carefully use a combination of strategies like the promise of development and peaceful settlement of armed conflictspromises which gain particular traction under favourable conditions created by the small state syndrome. This syndrome signifies a condition of perpetual dependence of small states like Manipur on the centres financial largesse, which in turn makes them amenable to state-level party system change whenever there is a change in party configuration at the national level (Hausing 2022).

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Or

To gain instant access to this article (download).


Pay
INR 59

(Readers in India)


Pay
$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.