Regional roots of India’s national elections

Regional roots of India’s national elections

Seminar Magazine, 31 May 2019

As the election season kicks into high gear, a ragtag collection of regional parties1 have a chance to play spoiler for the two big national parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress. These parties have won enough vote share to be pivotal in forming almost every government since the 1990s onwards. But since its sweeping victory in the 2014 national election, a reinvigorated BJP has begun to assert itself in new parts of India and challenged the standard narrative of regional parties being kingmakers in Indian politics. In 2014, the BJP won 282 out of 543 seats, a majority by itself. What does the expansion of the BJP beyond its traditional regional bases portend for regional parties in India? How are centre-state relations being renegotiated as the party system in India is caught in shifting sands?

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