For much of the seven decades since India’s independence, the Indian National Congress has served as the country’s central pillar of politics. A quarter century ago, Congress dominance in New Delhi began to give way to two distinct political forces—the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a wide-ranging collection of regional political parties.
Today, the BJP controls the levers of power in New Delhi, regional parties win nearly fifty percent of the votes in national elections, and the Congress appears on the decline. Two new books, Elite Parties, Poor Voters: How Social Services Win Votes in India by Tariq Thachil and Why Regional Parties? Clientelism, Elites, and the Indian Party System by Adam Ziegfeld, shed light on the churning tide in Indian electoral politics. Thachil and Ziegfeld discussed the factors that have given rise to these new political dynamics and what they portend for India’s future. Carnegie’s Milan Vaishnav moderated.
A reception followed the event at 5:30 p.m., featuring an exhibition of cartoons and caricatures on India by political cartoonist Shreyas Navare, based on his book entitled The Politickle Pickle.
Shreyas Navare is the founder and chief creative officer at Toonanza and freelances as an editorial cartoonist for the Hindustan Times. He is currently a fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.
Tariq Thachil is Peter Strauss Family assistant professor of political science at Yale University. His research focuses on political parties and political behavior, social movements, ethnic politics, and urban migration, with a regional focus on South Asia.
Adam Ziegfeld is International Council assistant professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University. His research focuses on political parties and elections, primarily in India.
Milan Vaishnav is senior associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he works on the political economy of India.