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New Left Review 30, November-December 2004

Ambiguous reasons for the unexpected relief of the BJP’s ouster in New Delhi: less a clear-cut verdict on Hindutva or neoliberalism than vicissitudes of regional power-broking and first-past-the-post electoral lottery? Congress caught between loyalty to the stock market and pressures of the poor, as it seeks to recover its position as the mainstream reference of Indian capital.



If, as Gramsci said, ‘the counting of “votes” is the final ceremony of a long process’—a process of persuasion and alliance-building—the 2004 Indian elections were an apparent anomaly for the Gramscian schema. [1] Selections from the Prison Notebooks, New York 1971, p. 192. I would like to thank Achin Vanaik for comments on an earlier draft. Remaining faults and inconsistencies are to be blamed on the fluidities of the political situation; and, of course, on me. All statistics are from the Election Commission of India, Provisional Statistical Report on the General Elections, 2004 to the 14th Lok Sabha, vol. i, National and State Abstracts and Detailed Results: The surprise installation of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in New Delhi could be called neither final nor ceremonial. Rather, a grim new dynamic has entered the unfolding political developments of the last decades. The rise of Hindutva—authoritarian Hindu nationalism—and its party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, were central to these. The two successive National Democratic Alliance governments—coalitions of the bjp with the majority of the country’s regional parties—in 1998 and 1999 had constituted their climax. The 2004 verdict has now entwined the Congress within this vortex.

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Radhika Desai, ‘Forward March of Hindutva Halted?’, NLR 30: £3

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