Indrajit Roy
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The passionate politics of the Savarna poor
in Passionate politics
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A much-remarked feature of the 2019 Indian general election was the unprecedented support garnered by the BJP among poorer voters. This chapter urges attention to the surging support for the BJP among members of certain caste communities within the poor, compared to others. It further reflects on the ways in which such passionate support entwined with specific political, social and economic rationalities. Support for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) among poor people of ‘upper caste’ or Savarna communities was considerably higher than among either Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Dalit communities, whose members have been historically oppressed as ‘lower caste’ and ‘untouchable’ respectively. The thumping support for the BJP among the Savarna poor, despite the economic difficulties posed by several policies of Modi’s first government, may be explained by the affirmative action for ‘economically weaker sections’ instituted a few months prior to the election. This chapter reflects on the political emotions that led to the institution of affirmative action for this social class. It first discusses the class basis of the BJP’s re-election. Next, it highlights the caste differentiation of the class vote for the NDA. Third, it discusses the importance of affirmative action in attracting Modi, the BJP and the NDA to the Savarna poor, a social class whose members found themselves with a precarious privilege. The chapter concludes by reflecting on agendas beyond the BJP’s Hindu nationalist welfarism that continue to motivate members of poor people from other castes.

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Passionate politics

Democracy, development and India’s 2019 general election



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