The Constraints on Electoral Mobilization

The Constraints on Electoral Mobilization

Economic & Political Weekly, 18 December 2004

Election 2004 revealed no clear mandates because no political formation currently has the capacity to break the 'logjam of electoral strategy'. In other words, while political parties may appeal on the basis of caste mobilisation or an 'anxious' nationalism, such ideological appeals are necessarily limited by their appeal only to sections of the populace. On the other hand, parties are also unable to move beyond the governance agenda or a general politics of redistribution as the state's ability to sustain populism is also limited. Thus, in place of any viable form of electoral mobilisation, parties fight elections via the formation of contingent coalitions. As this article argues, such a politics, while limited, has also strengthened Indian democracy. It has allowed diverse constituencies to share power and also produced political volatility without a corresponding ideological or policy volatility.

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