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

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A New, Fundamentally Different Political Order: The Emergence and Future Prospects of ‘Competitive Authoritarianism’ in India

India is no longer a liberal democracy. Bharatiya janata Party leaders are creating a new kind of political order that is an example of “competitive authoritarianism.” They have mounted a broad assault on democratic institutions, norms and practices. Their ongoing drive for top-down control has targeted Parliament, cabinet, government, the Election Commission, the media and many other institutions and interest groups, including major corporations, senior civil servants and the BJP’s own party organisation. Because the new order seeks to create a one-man government, with adulation focused on a single leader, it is more a cult than a well-rooted and institutionalised system. Its long-term survival, after the leader moves away from the scene, is open to serious doubt.

India’s Far from Neo-liberal Economic Order in the Modi Era

India’s economic order is far from neo-liberal. The state, and thus politicians, have retained very substantial powers over market forces. Expectations that the Modi government would liberalise audaciously have been disappointed. Especially since mid-2019, it has used its remaining powers to intimidate corporate interests, in pursuit of its main objective: top-down control over all power centres. Thus, in crucial ways, the economic order has become less liberal (or neo-liberal) than before.

The Election Outlook in Karnataka

Karnataka will be going to the polls this year before May. Since 1985, every government, no matter its performance, has been voted out after one term. With the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party gearing up for the battle at the hustings, this article looks at all the issues that can benefit or hamper their prospects.

Undone by Its Own Mistakes

In the 2015 Bihar elections, Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies led at the outset but lost badly to the Grand Alliance when votes were counted. The familiar themes of caste and development--along with governance, class alignments, the reservations issue, and communal polarisation--were all important, but the mishandling of them by BJP leaders turned them to their rivals' advantage. The BJP campaign suffered from the over-centralisation of power in the hands of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. A detailed account, based on fieldwork and interviews with those on the ground, explains how BJP lost in Bihar.

Lucky in Its Adversaries

The Congress Party won a majority of seats in Karnataka in May despite a poor campaign, because of the rival parties' weaknesses. Dynastic preoccupations within the Janata Dal (Secular) had narrowed its appeal and its social base. More crucially, the BJP government since 2008 had performed ineffectively and had appeared callously uncaring - and the BJP then suffered an unseemly split. Those problems can be traced to the autocratic narcissism and ineptitude of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. The Congress thus owes a great debt to its adversaries. This election also revealed colossal misperceptions of political realities in Karnataka by the national leaders of both the Congress and the BJP.

The Trouble with Yeddyurappa

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has been seen by his own partymen in the Bharatiya Janata Party as authoritarian, divisive and incompetent. Yet, the fear of a split within the party and the prospective loss of power in the only state in the south where the BJP has a ruling party status has tied its hands.

Letting a Winnable Election Slip Away: Congress in Karnataka

What explains the defeat of the Congress Party in the Karnataka assembly elections in May this year? The Congress waged a dismal campaign in the teeth of a shrewdly planned campaign by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The latter concentrated its resources in highly promising sub-regions of the state, as also, in a limited number of contests in apparently uncongenial areas where it perceived some chance of success.

Change in Karnataka over the Last Generation

This paper looks at the social and political changes in, and relevant to, rural Karnataka over the last few decades. It finds that the changes have been incremental but have added up to something of significance. Karnataka politics has been characterised by rainbow coalitions of social groups, irrespective of which party is in power, and this has given its institutions some continuity, social life some cohesiveness, and governance comparative freedom from excesses and corruption. But there are signs that social relations are coming under strain.

Madhya Pradesh Experiments with Direct Democracy

The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to transfer nearly all the powers previously exercised by gram panchayats to gram sabhas or periodic village mass meetings. This experiment may work well or prove a disappointment - but there is no doubting its audacity and its broader significance.

Understanding Deve Gowda

Understanding Deve Gowda James Manor Deve Gowda's past may turn out to be a poor guide to his premiership, but this account of a number of events, tendencies and recurring themes in his career may offer a somewhat clearer notion of what India can expect of the man from Hardanahalli.

Panchayati Raj and Early Warnings of Disasters

Panchayati raj institutions are not only a virtually foolproof source of early warnings about potential calamities, but also an effective means of ensuring that such warnings do not go unheeded.

BJP in South India 1991 General Election

James Manor Many political commentators and politicians of various parties see great potential in south India for the BJP to expand its electoral base. The party 'pulled out all stops' during the 1991 election campaign, devising special supplementary manifestos for each of the four southern states and redoubling its efforts there after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi This paper examines its performance there and offers tentative comments on the implications of that performance for the future prospects of the BJP in this region.


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