The reconfiguration of India’s political elite: profiling the 17th Lok Sabha

The reconfiguration of India’s political elite: profiling the 17th Lok Sabha

By Christophe Jaffrelot and Gilles Verniers
Contemporary South Asia, 18 May 2020

The rise of the BJP in national and state politics is often associated with a representation skewed toward traditional elite groups and the marginalisation of groups associated with other parties, such as minorities and various dominant OBC groups. This article examines the transformation of the sociological composition of the Lok Sabha over time and seeks to assess its elitist character, by providing descriptive statistics on five socio-demographic and economic variables: caste, religion, gender, dynasticism, wealth and occupation. Data suggests that political representation in India has by and large always been skewed toward the elites, but the composition of these elites has changed over time. For instance, the recent surge in the representation of the upper caste in the Lok Sabha pre-dates the rise of the BJP in 2014, and the marginalisation of minorities and women is a long-standing phenomenon. Since 2014 however, the BJP has contributed to enhancing a particular form of elite – those rooted in local and regional business networks.