One Issue Proved Key to the Opposition’s Stunning Success in India’s Election: Caste Politics

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Yves here. Attributing Modi’s underperformance in India’s recent elections to having not-great answers to the opposition successfully mobilizing on caste issues makes perfect sense…to outsiders. Can those who know India’s politics comment on whether this analysis is accurate, or too reductivist?

By Priya Chacko, Associate Professor, International Politics, University of Adelaide and Anand Sreekumar, PhD candidate, University of Adelaide. Originally published at The Conversation

This year’s general election in India arguably brought up more questions about the fairness of the electoral process than any other in the country’s history.

For example, in December, a bill was passed in India’s parliament that allowed election commissioners to be appointed by a panel dominated by the executive branch, which many feared would endanger free and fair elections.

And during the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a string of speeches that were widely seen as Islamophobic, in which he accused the opposition Congress Party of favouring Muslims. The Election Commission failed to adequately enforce the Model Code of Conduct when it came to these comments.

Opposition chief ministers, Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), meanwhile, were arrested on charges of corruption. Both parties claimed the charges were politically motivated.

One of the lessons from the election, however, is that even when there are questions about how free and fair a vote is, opposition parties can dent the dominance of ruling parties.

In India’s election, the opposition presented a united front and stuck to a consistent message reflecting specific issues of voter discontent.

Why Caste Politics Were So Important

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party did not perform as well as expected in the election, suffering major losses in its heartland northern Indian states. Modi began the six-week election campaign saying his party would win more than 400 seats. Ultimately, it was reduced to 240 seats, while the opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) won 232 seats.

INDIA had a shaky start to the election. A founding member, the Janata Dal, joined Modi’s coalition earlier this year. INDIA also failed to reach a seat-sharing agreement with another member, Trinamool Congress (TMC), although that party remained part of the alliance.

Yet, as the campaign wore on, the BJP’s attacks on the opposition led to a more united front, focusing particularly on the issue of caste.

Indian society and politics are stratified by its caste system. It has roots in ancient religious texts, which grant symbolic and material rights and privileges to people based on their membership to a particular caste.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s speeches highlighted a commitment to protecting the Constitution and addressing the issue of caste-based injustice in India. He pledged to undertake a caste census to reveal the extent of disadvantage and concentration of wealth in society.

He also pointed out the government’s centralisation of power, as well as the upper caste-dominated media’s adulation of Modi and its inattention to issues of unemployment and inflation.

Lalu Prasad Yadav, a leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party, which is also part of the INDIA coalition, warned the BJP intended to change the Constitution to end caste-based affirmative action. Though this was denied by Modi, the allegation seemed to strike a chord with voters.

Caste presented a dilemma for Modi’s Hindu nationalist politics, which valorises upper-caste Hindu practices and behaviours, while relying on support from the lower caste majority to win elections.

The BJP had sought to ameliorate this tension by promoting welfare schemes and accusing the secular opposition of colluding with Muslims to deprive the Hindu lower-caste poor.

In the lead-up to the election, Modi also claimed to have replaced traditional forms of caste stratification with four new castes of welfare “beneficiaries” – women, farmers, the youth and the poor.

In truth, however, the government’s welfare schemes consisted of paltry cash transfers, small loans, food rations and subsidies for private goods like toilets, which sought to compensate for the stagnation of incomes and lack of jobs. Spending on health and education by Modi’s government, which could have transformative effects on society, has languished.

The BJP’s infrastructure-driven economic program has benefited large companies, leading to accusations of crony capitalism. It has also failed to attract substantial foreign investment or grow the manufacturing sector to create more jobs.

Over the past decade – but particularly following the COVID pandemic – India has also become one of the world’s most unequal countries. Women, Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims have fared the worst.

Dalit Politicians Also Grew in Prominence

Perhaps the biggest surprise for the BJP were its heavy losses in its heartland state, Uttar Pradesh.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) had previously dominated Uttar Pradesh politics by promoting the interests of particular lower caste “other backward classes”. This tactic, however, generated resentment among other lower castes, which was exploited by the BJP to win power in 2017.

In this election, the SP appears to have fashioned a new, broader caste coalition.

This election also saw new shifts in Dalit politics, the lowest rung of the caste structure in India. In Uttar Pradesh, new Dalit political parties became increasingly prominent, such as the Azad Party led by Chandra Sekhar Azad.

Further south, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) consolidated its status as the largest Dalit party in Tamil Nadu, winning all the seats it contested.

The Future of Indian Democracy

Indian democracy is not out of the woods yet. Activists, students, political leaders and journalists remain imprisoned.

The Hindu nationalist movement also has a history of inciting communal violence when things do not go its way in the electoral arena.

The Modi government started to extend its media censorshipduring the election, as well.

There is little to suggest that Modi will temper what many see as authoritarian tendencies, but there is now more resistance, scepticism and political alternatives that will hopefully aid India’s democratic recovery.

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  1. ciroc

    It seems that the people of India, who enjoy democracy, have a long way to go to reach the standard of living of the Chinese people, who suffer under the oppressive rule of the CCP.

    1. Brian Beijer

      Please. It’s CPC. I’m so sick of people using CCP…It’s like someone saying USB instead of USA.

      1. Jessica

        More like saying AUS instead of USA but your point is well taken. In English, communist parties have always been CPnation. CPUSA, CPSU, CPI, thus CPC for China.
        CCP is a right-wing affectation something like deliberately using the wrong pronoun.

    2. Roger

      Not much “suffering” nor “oppression” there, perhaps you should actually visit China and educate yourself beyond simplistic ideological name calling. Also, look in the mirror at your own country – most probably a lot of suffering and oppression there.

  2. Xquacy

    Despite all the jubilation and even cautious optimism as expressed in this article, I have to say with great regret, this election was not a rejection of Modi. This was to be expected, as the opposition parties had very little of material benefits to offer themselves. What they were prepared to offer was what the author calls ‘private goods’ in a different shape. It was clear from the opposition’s campaign, that they hoped resentment against Modi (and there is much disorganized resentment for sure) to cause BJP’s downfall. Nothing remotely like that has occurred.

    The BJP’s vote share (the popular vote) has dipped from 37.55% in 2019, to 36.5% in 2024. That’s a modest fall, where one would expect (as the opposition surely did) a rout, for catastrophic policies such as absolute lockdowns due to COVID19 in 2020, followed by full swing let ‘er rip, which resulted in a devastating delta wave in 2021 (excess mortality over 4 million!). Quietly during the lockdowns, the BJP unleashed a massive assault on the working class, by repealing scores of labor protection laws. The government continued imposing harsh austerity right through this period, which further increased stress especially on the rural peasantry. Devastating farm laws were enacted which proposed among other things to dismantle the public distribution system of food in the country, and despite massive organized pushback by the rural peasantly in north India, the government attempted for 18 months to have their way (the peasant agitation severely hurt BJP’s prospects in Punjab and Haryana assemblies). This represents a snippet of the relentless neoliberal assualt on Indian peasants and workers that BJP has continued to push, not to mention, the overt violence and hostility against Muslims, which primarily is enacted through a slew of policy measures.

    In this backdrop, less than 2% of vote share drop is despair inducing. So why didn’t this election produce the results BJP hoped for? It’s important to bear in mind that both 2014 and 2019 were lopsided in BJP’s favour in terms of ‘seat conversions’, or translation of votes to a victory in the Lok Sabha seat. In 2014, BJP’s national vote share was 31%, and total seats won 282 (51% of the total). In 2019, this was 37.55% for 303 seats (55.9% of the total). This is of course due to the first past the post system, which many of the current (jubliant) commentators were first to point out was the driver behind BJP’s inflated representation in the Lok Sabha. This time, I think the best way to interpret the result is that this lopsidedness has been somewhat corrected, with 36.5% vote share for 240 seats (44% of the total).

    The reason is simply opposition alliance math. Where formely the opposition was splitting votes among each other (say the NCP with Congress in Maharashtra, or CPIM with Congress in Kerala) this time they consolidated these votes putting up a single opposition candidate as part of the INDIA alliance. This has worked out especially well in Uttar Pradesh, where BJP’s vote share has fallen by 8.6% for a loss of about 50% seats, whereas the Samajwadi Party’s seats went up from 5 in 2019 to 37 in 2024 with an increase in just 2.5% of vote share!

    In sum, there is little to suggest Modi has suffered any major dent in Indian national politics. What has happened is what should have happened 2019, but which the opposition was too weak, to disoriented and too busy infighting to fix back then. The idea that BJP or Modi ‘underperformed’ can only be sustained if you’d see a substantial fall in their voteshare (below 2014 levels of 31%).

    1. Chanakya

      Modi is not trying to dismantle the public distribution system but has instead used it to provide 5 kilos grain per head for a long time from the pandemic and has continued it through this year, though this was a GoI commitment for over 10 years as a Right To Food from the regime before 2014. When you are effectively the biggest seller of grain (for free) you need the supplies to deliver as well, which the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is tasked with. In Punjab and Haryana, FCI is almost the only buyer at that high price which is what the farm laws wanted to reduce in scope.
      Failure has many fathers and they are all being searched for, the losses in UP (having 80 out of a total of 543 seats) that mattered most are far from explained. Though not yet clear, deepfake videos generated by AI could also be a contributing factor. The usual suspects are inducements, an oppressive heat wave leading to lower turnouts and also realignments of some castes likely due to exaggerated and stoked fears of reservations being removed from the Constitution if Modi were returned with a brute majority.

      1. Xquacy

        The Public Distribution System is based on Minimum Support Prices for procurement of foodgrains. This cannot and will not be sustained by market mechanisms and for-profit procurement, which was the principle driver behind the farm laws. The peasant agitation stalled the enactment of laws which would be made schemes like (PMGKAY) impossible, and the GOI knows it, but they now cynically use the scheme to peddle their welfarist credentials. You need to inform yourself better and stop repeating mainstream corporate talking points.

    2. hk

      Good analysis! Thanks! Fits with my hunch based on overall figures and the kind of interparty alliances/coordination that you describe seem most logical.

    3. sudhir

      Yes, I would agree that there is little evidence of rejection of Modi (or the BJP) in general and the results are better explained by the consolidation of opposition votes due to the INDI alliance. One point that is obfuscated in the main article by comparing the seats for the BJP to the total opposition is that no other party crossed a 100 seats in parliament (the Congress ended up with 99) in spite of this consolidation.

      One problem with Indian politics is that every party other than the BJP (and to a lesser extent, AAP) is a family-based concern, i.e., built around a single leader whose extended family controls it completely. This is true of all the major opposition parties in parliament (Congress – the Gandhis, SP – the Yadav family, TMC – Mamata Bannerjee, DMK – Karunanidhi, Shiv Sena – Thackeray). Their alliances are fluid and not long lasting since they are subject to the whims and fancies of a single person in most cases.

      In the sense that these family concerns are a grouping of castes and communities, one could attribute the results to caste-based politics. However, one would then also need to explain why the BJP has such a large vote share in the constituencies where they competed. Their vote share of 36.56% is understated because it is an average over all constituencies rather than only those where they competed. The BJP is also becoming competitive in areas where they were a negligible force. They won one seat in Kerala for the first time ever (with 38% of the vote) and came close in another (Trivandrum with 36% of the vote). Even in Tamilnadu where the BJP has never won a seat, they had a respectable showing in Coimbatore with 34% of the vote. This is in spite of them basically writing off 20% of the vote (the Muslims). They’ve also made inroads in the East of the country where they’ve won the state of Odisha.

      Modi is still immensely popular according to all available evidence and it is open to question as to how much of the BJP’s success is due to him and what would happen after he leaves the scene. They have two main disadvantages – the anti-Muslim rhetoric (which creates a stable anti-BJP vote in 20% of the electorate) and their perceived Hindi-speaking North Indian bias (which hurts them in the South and East).

    4. MVL

      Absolutely spot on.
      This is what I myself wrote a few days back in my WhatsApp group. I quote:
      BJP’s share of votes polled in 2024 was 36.6%, whereas in 2019 it was 37.3%. So there was only a minor drop of about 0.7%.
      The decline in seats was however very steep, from 303 to 240, thus of 63 seats.
      The discrepancy in votes vs. seats is essentially due to poll strategies, in which opposition alliance excelled.
      A principal factor was 20 odd parties and splinter groups forged a unity which prevented their dividing the votes amongst themselves.
      Based on voters’ share, Modi and BJP’s popularity can hardly be said to have been dented in any significant way. ‎
      So a safe conclusion would be, Modi is similarly popular as in the past but is less powerful politically owing to winning less number of seats.
      BJP’s failure was strategic, not loss of popularity.
      Shrewd as BJP’s ‘chanakyas’ are (machiavellian that is) they can be expected to overcome the past failures and upend the opposition by playing divide and rule tactics in the next showdowns.
      I also expect it to induce many of the smaller constituents of Opposition alliance to change sides in the new Parliament.

  3. ADB

    While the article and the comments above are largely correct, what is missing is the interaction of caste and class. Stratification by class is even more acute in India. What do I mean by that? Nearly everybody in the upper class is an upper caste person, but everyone in the upper castes is not in the upper classes, but frequently also very poor. That is obviously a reflection of extreme economic inequality. The claim of an 8.2% economic growth, engineered by sleight of hand regarding inflation data has been pooh-poohed by many serious economic observers…. Jobless growth is rampant, leading to Indian workers looking for jobs in Israel and contributing to one of the largest groups of illegal migrants to the United States! A number of TV interviews and informal surveys of young unemployed and underemployed rural and small town urban youth of all castes before the election had been an early pointer regarding the election results.

  4. Ahinsa

    Voters are too savvy anymore to vote along caste lines. BJP’s core constituency are the extreme right and the trader, PMC and rich. The latter group have benefited from asset inflation just like in the USA. It is the one’s who have been harrased, neglected and exploited who have exercised their prerogative to vote against incumbency. People have traveled a thousand miles from big cities where they work to their villages for this election to cast their vote!! But they have hidden their intent and hence the exit polls failed so badly. Voters were afraid of being singled out by this very vindictive administration

    1. CA

      I would suggest looking to Kerala and economic data, as compared to that of other states. The relative success of Kerala and the voting away from the BJP, indicate to me that fairness in economic development is important in understanding the declining BJP vote through India.

      1. CA

        Kerala, 2023

        Life expectancy ( 75.0)
        Infant mortality ( 5.05)

        Kerala is essentially a socialist state.

        1. Paul Art

          Absolutely! A father of a friend of mine from my schools days (1980s) had multiple Cashew and Pepper farms in Kerala. He would always complain that in Kerala they have one Union for climbing the trees and another Union for cutting down the Coconuts! Literacy is also very very high in Kerala. I recently made a trip to Kovalam and apart from the few major Hotel chains who have built waterfront franchises the place is relatively still pristine. It was lovely to walk the quaint streets and beaches.

          1. NotThePilot

            Kerala’s always been such an interesting place to me: never particularly large or loud on the world-stage but very outward-looking, simultaneously forward-thinking and traditional, socialist in modern times but also very commercial. I’m guessing some historian has to have written a long history about the place.

            For math & science people, the place is famous for the Kerala astronomers, who among other things, arguably figured out basic calculus before Newton & Leibniz. Even the religious politics of the place seem different.

            Coming from a more Islamic perspective, it’s noticeable how their contact with Islam didn’t involve suffering violent invasions by Central Asians like North India. More like Indonesia, there mainly seems to have been just a lot of ultra-chill trade by sea and the occasional wandering mystic or preacher.

  5. Mikel

    “…Rahul Gandhi’s speeches highlighted a commitment to protecting the Constitution and addressing the issue of caste-based injustice in India. He pledged to undertake a caste census to reveal the extent of disadvantage and concentration of wealth in society….”

    According to economists and pundits of the West, that kind of wealth concentration means a “dynamic” economy.
    The praise goes to the countries that can achieve the concentration.

    1. Paul Art

      I very sincerely wish that the Gandhi family would just go away somewhere. They are the Albatross around the neck of the Congress party. I am not a BJP fan being a Christian. In 2005 while living in Bangalore I went into shock seeing armed police guard around a nearby Catholic Church. It was my version of Kristalnacht. Despite this I would still say that the BJP gets things done. In the early 1990s when the Manmohan Singh Congress government was still in power you could not clear Customs in any airport without handing over gobs of cash or liquor bottles etc. The Customs Inspectors were basically local Mafia. The Congress government did nothing to put a stop to this or any other similar racketeering going on all over India. The BJP stopped all this in its tracks. Today when I walk through customs I breathe a silent thanks to Modi and his cohorts. Just late last year I carried a new Johnny Cash Martin through customs. No one stopped me and I did not even spot a Customs Inspector. Same story with clearing Immigration. These days they address you as Sir. Under the Congress they would treat you like lepers and yell at you. Same story again with the Nationalized Banks. I would shiver in fear while filling out assorted pieces of forms etc for pulling out my own money in a Bank because any mistake would get you yelled out of the place. There would be long queues in front of Teller windows. The nationalized Bank Unions were among the most powerful. No more. Today competing with foreign banks they have learnt a strong lesson to respect the customer to earn their loyalty. The BJP has really gotten rid of a lot of bureaucracy. I remember in 2019 while on the eve of a trip to India panicking because my Indian Green Card had run into some trouble (was called PIO card, Person of Indian Origin at that time). I read online that you could apply via the External Affairs Ministry website and you could get a visa in 24 hours. I went, “Yeah, right”, but did go ahead and apply and lo and behold! I got a visa the very next day. I commend and applaud Modi for standing up to the US in the current context of the Russian sanctions regime and bravely importing Russian oil and working to further BRICS. I can definitely tell you that the Congress would have done none of that. The major accomplishment of the Congress Manmohan Singh Government in the 1990s was basically give the entire Farm away to the marauding Americans by shredding every bit of labor law worker protection in order to “attract US investment”. The Congress especially under the Gandhi family did nothing, absolutely nothing to ease the life of the middle class. Congress Governments made the Central Government branches a kind of mafia parasite on the middle class allowing extreme corruption to rule in almost every walk of life. Rahul Gandhi is an empty Khadi mannequin. His sister Priyanka and he are 3rd generation inheritors of the Congress legacy. One of the worst absurdities is how their Grandpa, Jawaharlal Nehru stole the hallowed Gandhi name from the great Mahatma Gandhi by naming his daughter Indira Gandhi. Today when the name of “Gandhi” is invoked it immediately evokes memories of Indira and her paranoid rule as Prime Minister in the 1970s but not the small, slight bespectacled man who inside that frame hid coils and tentacles of steel determination and almost single-handedly accelerated the exit of the British from India in 1947. Today the leader of the Congress party is Sonia Gandhi (Italian) the wife of Rajiv Gandhi (second son of Indira Gandhi) who was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers Freedom Fighters of Sri Lanka. Sonia after Rajiv’s assassination turned the Congress Party into some kind of living Shrine in the love and memory of her husband and the slide of the party commenced from that time. There was some hope that the Gandhi family would exit politics when Rajiv died but nope. Other commenters have remarked about how politics in India is largely personality driven and unfortunately this is very true. It is a Dynasty + Sycophancy model. Some children do better than their fathers but most others are clueless like Rahul. There are dynamic figures in the Congress party like Sashi Tharoor (UK educated) but as long as the Gandhi’s rule, no one else gets a chance to lead. If you had not noticed our great USA is following the Dynastic model in politics of late with the Kennedy’s, the Bushes, the Pelosis, the Sununus etc. Not a good thing at all.

  6. Arin Basu

    Interesting analysis, but BJP’s reduced number of seats and Modi’s predictions did not come true, not _only_ because of caste politics (that may have been partly the case), but there were other factors at play. Even in the UP, while Modi and party’s vote share dropped, INDIA did not have an overwhelming success, good show notwithstanding. Modi still went on to win, so did some of their so-called ‘stalwarts’. Besides, if caste factor were so important for INDIA’s good show, why did they not do well in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, or in Andhra Pradesh? All these three states have issues with castes. Even in Bihar, INDIA sort of flopped.
    As an alternative, to the credit of INDIA coalition, they held themselves well, spoke to the larger narrative of constitution, secularism, and the traditional values of a democractic India, and that won the day for them. In particular, Rahul Gandhi’s criss-crossing of India even though India’s mainstream media paid scant attention to this “hero’s journey”, made a difference. After this election, much to look forward to in India. Let’s watch this space as Indians reclaim their democracy.

  7. JBird4049

    >>>According to economists and pundits of the West, that kind of wealth concentration means a “dynamic” economy.
    The praise goes to the countries that can achieve the concentration.

    Isn’t that really in praise of the corruption needed?

  8. Paul Art

    Regarding caste in India it is really programmed into the genes and blood and runs across religions as well. It is not only the Hindus who are caste burdened but Christians as well. As a Christian myself I can attest to this. Matrimony is one area where mothers and fathers enforce this rule assiduously although it has lessened after the advent of the Neoliberal era in the 1990s in the urban areas. It becomes an unconscious trigger point for voters. For example, the Church I attended growing up – T.E.L.C (Tamil Ecumenical Lutheran Church) holds regular elections for office holders at various levels. This is completely ridden with caste politics with secret code words to indicate backward castes, scheduled castes etc. Church folk regularly find out who from their caste is running and vote for them. The funny part is, these people are converted Hindus who got their religion from German Missionaries. They left their Hinduism behind but not their caste. That parable about the Good Samaritan has not touched them in any way even though they listen to it Sunday after Sunday from their pews.

  9. Shom

    The article has explored well one aspect of the issue that made BJP lose its sole mandate. Casteism permeates every religion that is practiced in India, mainly because all converts to Islam and Christianity were Hindus before. Also, Hindus from all castes partook of Modi’s hindu-first nationalist agenda in its heady early days. At the least, barring some honorable mentions like the Bhim Army, there was no push back on this from any lower caste communities. After all, if one can blame the ‘other’ for one’s ailments, why wouldn’t you? This animus is a global driving factor in discrimination, be it against blacks, immigrants etc.

    A significant factor in this loss was also Modi’s inability to articulate an agenda for the day after. BJP and his main promise was to build this temple for Ram in this town Ayodhya on top of the ruins of a mosque. The party has coasted on that emotive issue for 40 years now. They finally built this temple and inaugurated it early this year. Modi expected a great reaping of rewards for this, but there was a significant “what does the dog do after it catches up with the car” factor that emerged.

    The poor (mostly lower caste) voter was still poor, and their economic hardships became their focus for this election, while they saw Modi and BJP focus solely on the temple. There were hourly reports on telly re the progress being made in opening the temple, while mere trifles like farmers committing suicides under economic pressure was explained away as just desserts for not buying into the neoliberal farm law ‘reforms’ that Modi pushed for.

    This result is the best that could be produced under the circumstances. As other commenters have noted, most oppo parties are run by ‘nepobabies’ that carry no mass support. As the post author notes, they still managed to stick to the coalition concept well enough to consolidate the anti-incumbency vote to the point where Modi lost the mandate.

    Modi’s rampant misogyny (calling an oppo leader a ‘Jersey cow’, another a demented ‘sister’) was a self-limiting factor in the third largest state, Bengal, where the woman leader — who should be subject to a strong anti-incumbency vote — simply had to shut up and let Modi and his acolytes inflict self-damages via rank misogynistic comments.

    Modi’s temperament will not allow him to function well in a coalition – he expected to be undisputed king, but got merely the main seat at the roundtable. There will be a fair amount of instability in the government, and hopefully the nepobabies will grow into some form of principled leadership before the next elections are called, surely before the 5 year term is up.

  10. tyaresun

    Shakier the coalition, greater the number of ministers (72 as of now), and higher the amount of corruption.

  11. Anonymous

    The reason this seems like such a big defeat is that Modi was talking about 400 seats prior to the election, but I think this was strategic, I think he knew that there was going to be difficulty in getting a full majority and was trying to motivate ground-level workers. But after the dust settles, it is not a defeat at all, it is a victory albeit in coalition, but the two main coalition partners can be easily satisfied, especially as one of them ran a “I will implement Modi’s policies better than you” type of election campaign.
    The main losses occurred in three states, West Bengal, which is difficult because of the violence and intimidation of the TMC party against Hindu BJP voters, which means we would have expected a bit more of a tally to the BJP kitty if the elections were held fairly. Mahahastraha had losses because of the delicate political situation, a split with a part of the “hindutvadi” Shiv Sena, and probably some incorrect caste equations. UP had significant losses due to poor management by the BJP, especially with the caste equations that Amit Shah had ingeniously chosen in the two previous elections (72 and 64 out of 80, I think, a massive result). Amit Shah is Home Minister and the guy in charge now is just not as good.
    Finally, in UP the Congress played up some lies pretty well, that of huge cash infusions to voters if they came to power (some Muslim women were lining up at the Congress office after the election lol), and that Modi was going to end caste reservations (this was using deep fake videos). And since UP is the key state this led to the dip below the necessary 272 for sole control.

  12. James

    I’m currently reading ‘The New BJP’ by Nalin Mehta and finding it very interesting. I did not know anything about India’s caste politics before reading it.

    The simplified view of India that I am getting is that China gets class mobility from it culture’s emphasis on education – get a good education in China and you can rise in the corporate ranks and in the Communist Party. Get a poor education and you are going to have to work hard for low pay and nobody is going to feel sorry for you.

    Indian culture on the other hand treats class/caste as a fait accompli for which compensation should be meted out by the government. I don’t see how, with this culture, India will be able to raise its PISA scores any time soon … and I don’t see how India will be able to develop if it can’t raise its PISA scores.

    I think perhaps the BJP leadership perhaps sees these issues as ones that need to be addressed – but there are a lot of vested interests and deep seated cultural values that are going to make that difficult.


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