Numéro de périodique
Assessing the 2019 Indian Elections
Contemporary South Asia
GB : Carfax
2 (June 2020)
India, political regime, 2019 Indian Elections
In this special issue, we explore different facets of the 2019 campaign, providing detailed analysis of its outcome in an attempt to connect these elections to larger questions regarding the transformation of India’s political regime. Jaffrelot and Verniers provide a detailed account of the BJP campaign and the factors that helped the BJP secure such a decisive victory. They examine in particular the crucial part played by the BJP’s extraordinary electoral machine, unprecedented in Indian politics, and the multiple competitive advantages secured by the BJP through its command over resources and control over the media, both social and traditional. Yamini Aiyar and Neelanjan Sircar argue that the absence of competition to the BJP at the national level has weakened the position of many regional parties vis-à-vis the Centre, both in electoral terms as well as in bargaining power. This situation has accentuated the divergence between national and state politics, and helped the BJP further centralize powers in the hands of the executive. Neelanjan Sircar, in a separate contribution, develops a model of the politics of vishwas (trust/belief) as a form of personal politics in which voters prefer to centralize political power in a strong leader, and trust the providential leader to make the right political or policy decisions. He explains further how this model of politics is consonant with the unitary aspirations of the BJP and therefore normatively sustains its efforts to centralize powers. Oliver Heath delves into constituency-level data to explore the connections between turnout and various socio-economic and socio-demographic characteristics of constituencies. He examines in particular the impact of social cleavages related to the level of urbanization, poverty and literacy within a constituency, as well as its religious and caste profile. Carole Spary examines the outcome of this election with regard to women’s participation and representation. This exercise helps demonstrate that, despite unusual counter-examples in the states of Odisha and West Bengal, these elections show much continuity with regard to women’s representation among both candidates and elected representatives. Finally, Verniers and Jaffrelot provide an analysis of the outcome of the 2019 elections through an examination of the sociological profile of the new Lok Sabha, thanks to original data collected before and during the campaign by the Trivedi Centre for Political Data and members of the SPINPER project. This exercise reveals that the forms of elitism associated with the BJP are enduring, predating its recent rise on the national stage.