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South Asia Center presents: Sanjay Ruparelia

341 Eggers Hall

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Divided We Govern: the Paradoxes of Power in Contemporary Indian Democracy What explains the rise of communist, regional and lower caste-oriented socialist parties in modern Indian democracy since 1989? Why have these parties faced repeated difficulties in constructing a progressive 'third force' vis-a-vis the traditionally dominant Congress and Hindu nationalist BJP? What explains the politics, policies and performance of Third Front governments in New Delhi? To what extent have these parties reshaped the agendas, strategies and prospects of their national rivals? And why does the idea of a third force, despite its deteriorating political fortunes since the late 1990s, persist in contemporary Indian democracy? This talk will address these questions. It demonstrates the paradoxes of power in a federal parliamentary system such as India, which create incentives to forge national coalition governments, yet decrease their chances of surviving. In such circumstances, the strategies, tactics and choices of political actors become especially significant in determining historic outcomes. Ruparelia argues the failure of the broader Indian left to judge its real possibilities has led to its gradual dissolution as a collective political formation.

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