Politics

Mujibur Rehman

This chapter explores the consequences of the 2019 parliamentary elections on Muslim politics in India in the wake of the remarkable victory by the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The chapter predicts a gloomy future for the secular polity in general, but affirms Muslim voters’ secular choices in their voting behaviour. Indian Muslims, it argues, are feeling more despondent and marginalised owing to the aggressive pursuit of the BJP’s majoritarian Hindutva agenda. While Muslim parties such as the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) are seeking to present themselves as alternatives, Muslim voters have remained loyal to secular alternatives by voting mostly for various regional secular parties. The chapter discusses the BJP’s strategy of exclusion of Muslim candidates, its polarisation politics and the choices before Indian Muslim voters. It concludes that the pursuit of the majoritarian agenda is going to increase further violence against and exclusion of Muslims – and recognises that the general commitment of Muslims to remain integral to inclusive mainstream politics is still very high, which is why Muslim parties would have no future in Indian democracy.

in Passionate politics
Nitya Rao

Despite a declining share in GDP, agriculture still constitutes the mainstay for close to half of India’s population. Yet, with little investment in agricultural research and extension over the past two decades, lack of procurement at announced minimum support prices, and in the face of growing climatic variability, the farming community continues to experience massive distress. This has resulted in a large number of protests by farmers over the past few years, escalating since 2017, a direct response to the unmet promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 2014 election campaign, to implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers. The current protests have also seen an articulation by women farmers, seeking recognition and support for their contributions to the economy as farmers, not just as home-makers and ‘unpaid household helpers’.

in Passionate politics
Shalini Sharma

Narendra Modi led his party to an emphatic victory in the 2019 Indian elections. While there are many factors that contributed to this electoral success, the popularity of Hindutva history, its adoption by many as Indian history, and the emotional fervour with which that history has been weaponised within and outside the academy, carries some explanatory weight. This chapter will look at the ways the Bharatiya Janata Party and its fellow travellers have perpetuated convincing historical narratives that have undermined the secularism written into the Indian constitution. While this historical perspective has deep roots, its prominent place in the 2019 election campaign vividly showcases the emotive and destructive power of history.

in Passionate politics
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The new reasoning of majoritarian politics
Gurpreet Mahajan

Whether it is the frustration and anger expressed by the protesting farmers and other marginalised groups or the righteous indignation that was expressed when forty CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide-bomber attack in Pulwama, emotional politics seems to be the order of the day. After India executed an air strike against ‘terrorist camps’ across the border, passions ruled the public arena without restraint. Even though people stood solidly behind the government’s decision, many sections of the media (print, electronic and social media) whipped up popular sentiment in a way that condemned anyone who questioned the official narrative. As emotional politics took over, the space for debate and discussion shrank. In this environment, the irresistible urge is to explain the current phase of Indian politics and the electoral victory of the BJP through the lens of emotions. However, all such accounts, invoking a simple and rather indefensible binary between emotions and reason, remain myopic. They fail to recognise the deeper shifts that are occurring in the political discourse – changes that often lie hidden under the effervescence of emotions. In particular, the manner in which the BJP is challenging the preceding consensus around the politics of difference remains unnoticed. While we confront the present nature of emotional politics, it is equally important to reflect on the new reasoning that majoritarian politics is employing in India and many other parts of the world.

in Passionate politics
Ather Zia

The dispute in Kashmir has been simmering since 1947. In 1989 a popular armed resistance began in Indian-administered Kashmir against the government of India. One of the most densely militarised zones in the world, the human rights violations committed by Indian government forces have resulted in more than 100,000 people being killed and more than 8,000 being forcibly disappeared. Even though eroding Kashmir’s autonomous status under the special Article 370 has been a persistent policy of the Indian government, since 2014, after the BJP took power, the battle to remove Kashmir’s autonomy has been brought to the forefront, and the possibility of a major demographic shift through settler colonialism has become a looming threat. On 5 August, the BJP annulled Article 370, which guaranteed Kashmir’s autonomous special status. This chapter illustrates how the special article was a symbol of Kashmir’s historical sovereignty and served to underwrite the demand for self-determination by the Kashmiri people, and how the resistance to India continues.

in Passionate politics
Sarah Ansari

Ever since South Asia won its independence from British rule, the former princely state of Kashmir has represented a major source of tension in terms of both relations between India and Pakistan, and India’s own internal political arrangements. This chapter accordingly explores the historical roots of the twenty-first-century political passions that Kashmir continues to generate. By looking at political developments that took place during and after 1947–48, it contextualises the intense present-day challenges that Kashmir still generates for the region and its people.

in Passionate politics
Youth agency and the 2019 general election in Sikkim
Mabel Denzin Gergan
and
Charisma K. Lepcha

This chapter analyses Sikkim’s political landscape in the shadow of the 2019 general election, paying special attention to young people’s participation as both voters and political candidates. In Sikkim the 2019 national election was largely overshadowed by state-level assembly elections which culminated with the end of the twenty-five-year term of Chief Minister Pawan K. Chamling of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF). However, celebrations over the defeat of Chamling and the SDF at the hands of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) were marred by local anxieties and anger at the maiden entry of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) into Sikkim’s political landscape through backdoor channels and negotiations with both the SKM and SDF. In this chapter we analyse local discontent by centring the demands and desires of educated young people in Sikkim, situating their concerns within the wider context of the complex relationship between the Himalayan borderlands and ‘mainland’ India.

in Passionate politics
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Passionate politics in India today
Indrajit Roy

Emotions matter to politics. Despite their importance, emotions tend to be neglected in the study of such routine aspects of politics as elections. Whereas emotions have certainly been studied in the context of spectacular political moments, this volume attends to the passions generated by elections, which have all too often been dismissed as a relatively banal dimension of politics. The introduction reviews the rich literature on the importance of passions to politics, outlining the gaps in the study of emotions in studies of electoral politics. It then highlights the importance of India’s 2019 general election as an empirical case that offers insights into the interdisciplinary study of passions in politics. The chapter closes with an outline of the chapters and themes discussed in the book.

in Passionate politics
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Hindus, Muslims and moral panics
Charu Gupta

This chapter juxtaposes disjunctive invocations of Hindu male prowess and constructions of the ‘licentious’ and sexually ‘ferocious’ Muslim male on the one hand, and assertions of recalcitrant romances and ‘illicit’ intimacies on the other, in modern India. It takes its cue from two campaigns and events in present-day India. The first is a manufactured movement by hegemonic, homogenised Hindu identities and patriarchies around conversions of Hindu women by Muslim men under the supposed threat of ‘love jihad’. The second is the launch of ‘anti-Romeo’ squads by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, which is supposedly meant to be against the euphemistically named ‘eve teasing’, but can often become a source of harassment and fear for women and men, and a means to perpetuate love taboos. Through these two markers, the chapter probes intersections between masculinities, sexualities, religious identities, intimate lives and political articulations.

in Passionate politics
James Manor

In India in May 2019, Narendra Modi's party won re-election with a parliamentary majority and a five-year term in office. Modi is radically centralising power in pursuit of something close to one-man rule. He is aggressively seeking -- with considerable success -- to disempower and/or to capture every significant alternative power centre. By constricting the space for open, pluralistic politics, it is entirely possible that by the next national election in 2024, he will have made it impossible for opposition parties to achieve victory. India's democracy will have been strangled, and will be replaced by a ‘competitive authoritarian’ system. It is strange that this is possible despite an array of impediments. India's sophisticated voters have thrown out ruling parties at most national and state elections in this federal system since 1980. India has a lively civil society and well-organised interests. For many decades, it had lively media outlets, and a staunchly independent Election Commission and higher courts. But those institutions, and others, are now under threat from co-optation or control. What methods have been deployed by the Modi government to make solid headway in its authoritarian project, and is that sustainable?

in Passionate politics