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

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Political Communalisation of Religions and the Crisis of Secularism

The Indian state has managed the asymmetrical relationships in a hierarchical, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society by redefining, institutionally and legally, the relationship among communities, and between them and the state in the terms of secularism. This recognised the basic rights of individuals as citizens and their collectively held cultural rights as members of communities. However, this framework has now been replaced by a new form of pluralist discourse that totalises interests and community identities, and this has resulted in a battle between majoritarian and minoritarian communalism. The Congress-led coalition's victory in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll has given it a second chance after 2004 to restore the secularisation process by shifting the focus of the development discourse from communality to the backwardness of groups, which has remained submerged within every community of faith.

Haryana: Congress Retains Its Electoral Supremacy

In every election since the creation of Haryana, the ruling party has been defeated, but this time around there has been a reversal of this anti-incumbency trend. State-level factors played a far more important role than national-level issues in deciding the outcome in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. The Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda factor was in large measure responsible for this tilt as the people had not forgotten the ills of the previous O P Chautala government.

Karnataka: A Default Win for the BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party's rise in Karnataka politics is a clear reflection of the inability of the Congress to present a credible alternative and the incapacity of the Janata Dal (Secular) to garner state-wide support. The BJP's win, despite bucking a national trend, masks the relative disapproval of its governance in the state.

Naveen Patnaik Authors a New Chapter for Orissa

Breaking off its long partnership with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Biju Janata Dal and its new allies won both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections held in Orissa in April 2009. The Congress proved too inept to take advantage of the changed political scenario, while the BJP found itself pushed out of the picture. A major factor that contributed to the BJD victory was Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's personal popularity. Added to the party's reasonable performance in power, this prompted the state's electorate to once again buck the anti-incumbency trend and re-elect the ruling party with an expanded majority.

Himachal Pradesh: Pro-Incumbency Helps the BJP

Factionalism in the state Congress and a positive appraisal of the two-year old Prem Kumar Dhumal-led government in Himachal Pradesh helped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party garner three out of the four Lok Sabha seats in the state. The privileging of local/state level issues over the national also helped ensure the BJP buck its national trend.

Kerala: A Negative Verdict on LDF Government

The voters in Kerala privileged the performance of the state government while voting in the 15th Lok Sabha elections. The internal squabbles within the dominant party and within the Left Democratic Front alliance and an overall expression of disapproval of the state government's record helped the Congress-led United Democratic Front reap a large share of the seats.

Issues in General Election 2009

The issues raised in the 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign by the major alliances and the response of voters to them present a mixed picture. The National Election Study 2009 survey indicates that voters did not consider some of the issues highlighted by political parties to have much relevance to them and these had almost no impact on voting decisions. They included, for instance, the Bharatiya Janata Party's campaign issues such as the Indo-United States nuclear deal and the Ram Sethu controversy. However, economic concerns, basic services, welfare policies and citizens' security were significant in influencing voting decisions. Surprisingly, the United Progressive Alliance's vote did not suffer much even though the price rise and terrorist attacks during the government's term in office were matters of concern to a majority of the voters.

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.

Tamil Nadu: Against Expectations

The logic of stitching a large coalition of political parties, each with its social base, to ensure an electoral victory in Tamil Nadu seems to be a thing of the past in the state. The results of the 15th Lok Sabha elections went in favour of the ruling alliance suggesting that issue-based support may now be the deciding factor in the state.

Sikkim: Politics of Inclusiveness and One-Party Dominance

The peculiar history and social composition of Sikkim have compelled its government, dominated by the Sikkim Democratic Front, to pursue a prudent, all-inclusive policy. This has yielded rich dividends in all elections since 1994, putting to rest the many theories associated with the anti-incumbency factor. The state's politics, thus, remain an anomaly when compared to other Indian states.

Rajasthan: Performance and Campaigning Pay Dividends

The Congress Party's victory in Rajasthan can be attributed to its motivated organisation and electoral canvassing under the leadership of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, a positive evaluation of the central government's performance and factionalism within the Bharatiya Janata Party. The stability of the bipolar electoral system in Rajasthan was reinforced in the 15th Lok Sabha elections.

A Blueprint for a Fairer and More Stable Global Economy

The report of the United Nations Commission on reforms of the international monetary and financial system goes beyond making a critique of the paradigm that has held hegemonic sway over economic thinking and policy. It focuses on the enormous challenges that the world faces beyond the immediate crisis. This article provides an overview that illustrates the potential of the report to be a blueprint for creating a new global order.

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