Understanding the decline of regional party power in the 2019 national election and beyond

Understanding the decline of regional party power in the 2019 national election and beyond

Contemporary South Asia, 29 May 2020

In this piece, we argue that the electoral performance of the BJP, and the popularity of Narendra Modi, has significantly altered the dynamic of regional party politics in India. The BJP’s undiluted power at the Centre has created the political context for greater centralization of power. This in turn has generated greater distinctions between regional and national politics. The popularity of Prime Minister Modi combined with his party’s ideological project generates a deeply centralized national politics that can be easily distinguished from regional politics for the voter. This increasingly distinct form of national politics weakens the role of regional parties in national politics, both in electoral terms and in bargaining power, as regional parties rarely have well-defined, credible national policy platforms in India. However, it does, for the moment, appear to strengthen the electoral position of regional parties at the state level.