Politics of Modern India and the World of Untouchables

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-8-92-100

E. Nikiforova, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (ombrel@gmail.com)

Abstract. The article is devoted to the political performance of the Dalits - the former untouchables - on the political scene of modern India. Though the Dalits constitute a fourth of all population, until today they haven’t achieved great influence in Indian policy. There are only few Dalit party-players at the national level. A great success of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh several years ago is vanishing, and the Party's bad results in the last elections (national and regional) prove this negative tendency. In recent years, BSP faced internal divisions between its leader and party members as well as the lack of clear and constant strategy. The Party attempted to focus on broad layers of population from the Dalits to high castes, but started to lose the support of its core voters, i.e. the Dalits. The “Mody wave” during the last general elections in 2014 was able to catch Dalit voters practically in all states. Survey findings argue that the winner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the new charismatic prime-minister Narendra Modi challenged the Indian National Congress (INK), a traditional supporter of the Dalits, in most of issues. Dalit parties could hardly compose a strong alliance with other low castes parties, but their local leaders easily joined the current winner BJP. The Dalits face problems of their political identity, the lack of integration, and still act as “bank voters”, as usual.

Keywords: India, untouchables, caste, politics in India, political parties of India, Dalits, political mobilization, electoral processes

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For citation:
Nikiforova E. Politics of Modern India and the World of Untouchables. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, No 8, pp. 92-100. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2015-8-92-100

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