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Mainstream, VOL LIII , No 38, New Delhi, September 12, 2015

Understanding National Politics Post-2014

Sunday 20 September 2015

BOOK REVIEW

by Ranbir Singh

India’s 2014 Elections, A Modi-led BJP Sweep by Paul Wallace (ed.); Sage Publications, New Delhi; 2015; pages xxiv + 427; Price: Rs 1250.

This book is a continuation of the earlier election studies, Indian Politics and the 1998 Elections: Regionalization, Hindutava and State Politics (1999); India’s 1999 Elections and the 20th Century Politics (2003), India’s 2004 Elections: Grassroots and National Perspectives (2007) and India: 2009 Elections Coalition Politics, Party Competition and Congress Continuity which had been edited by two well-known specialists on Indian politics, Paul Wallace (Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA) and Ramashray Roy (Former Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, India) and published by Sage Publications, New Delhi. The only difference is that it has been edited single-handily by Paul Wallace. This was, indeed, a formidable and challenging task for him which he has performed in a superb manner.

The 2014 elections brought about a qualitative change in the party system of India. It was converted from a bipolar multi-party system to a dominant one-party system after a gap of more than three decades. But it is dominance with a difference. Paul Wallace has rightly attributed the BJP’s landslide victory to three factors: Economy, Corruption and Presidential Campaign. However, he has not taken into account the role of Big Business in this context.

The book has been divided into two parts — Thematic Studies and Analytical State Studies. Part-II has further been sub-divided into (a) Northern Cluster, (b) Kashmir and Western Cluster, and (c) Eastern and Southern Cluster.

Part-I includes highly scholarly articles by the editor and other eminent scholars on ‘Introduction: Single Party and Strong Leadership’; ‘The Resistance of Regionalism: BJP’s Limitations and the Resilience of State Parties’; ‘The Bharatiya Janata Party: A Victory for Narendra Modi’; Gender Narratives and Elections: Mandate for Safety, Development, or Rights’; ‘Civic Scrutiny, Organised Action, and Democratic Consolidation’.

Part-II includes equally scholarly articles ‘Understanding the BJP’s Victory in Uttar Pradesh’; ‘Saffron Deluge Inundates Masters of Mandal Politics in Bihar’; ‘Reclaiming the Capital: BJP’s Clean Sweep in Delhi’; ‘Decoding the Electoral Verdict in Punjab: The Future of Regional Parties?’; ‘Kashmir’s Contentious Politics: The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same’; ‘Mega Marketing and Manage-ment: Gujarat’s 2014 Elections’; ‘Maharashtra: Congress’ Dramatic Decline’; ‘TMC Dethrones the LF in West Bengal after 34 Years of Uninter-rupted Rule’; ‘Tamil Nadu: Strategic Interaction and Alliance Choices’; ‘Andhra Pradesh Bifurcation and Electoral Outcomes: Contextual Change, Social Coalition, and Developmental Discourse’; ‘Karnataka: Change and Continuity in 2014’; ‘BJP’s Consolidation, AIUDF’s Polarisation, and Congress’ Defeat in Assam’.

This well-researched work undoubtedly helps us in providing a comprehensive understanding of the pattern of national politics that has emerged in 2014. It has competently tried to answer the questions: How did it all happen? What was the extent of the Modi magic? What went wrong with the oldest political party, the Indian National Congress, that it could not even form a formidable Opposition? And what does this have in store for regional leaders and State politics? However, it does not provide adequate analysis of the changes that are likely to take place in the nature of power structure and political economy in India at the national and State levels.

Nevertheless, this book is an essential reading for the scholars of social sciences of India in general and for those of political science in particular. It is suggested that its paperback edition should be brought out for making it affordable for the students. Lastly, the editor, the contributors and the publishers must be congratulated for bringing this elegant and useful volume out in record time.

The reviewer was formerly the Chairman, Political Science Department, Dean, Social Sciences and Dean, Academic Affairs, Kurukshetra University.