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Mobilising the Lower Castes: The Rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party in India
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a party that represents the untouchable castes (Scheduled Castes or Dalits) in India. During the 1990s, the BSP emerged as a major political force in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India. The purpose of this study is to explain the remarkable electoral success of the BSP in Uttar Pradesh.

In order to achieve this aim, I address two main questions. Firstly, is the BSP mainly supported by Scheduled Caste voters or by voters from different groups? Secondly, why have these voters shifted to the BSP? Based on previous research about voting behaviour, I argue that voters may choose to support a party for four distinct reasons: because they agree with the political programme of the party, because they believe that the party will implement policies that benefit the group they belong to, because they believe that it is important to follow the voting norm within their group, or because they expect to receive access to patronage if the party gains power. These explanations are tested with the use of voter surveys, government statistics, and interviews with politicians. In a first step, I investigate why a substantial share of the voters in Uttar Pradesh began to support the BSP in the 1990s, and then proceed to ask if the same factors also explain why the BSP has succeeded in Uttar Pradesh and not in any other Indian state, why support for the party varies across districts and villages in Uttar Pradesh, and why some individuals are more inclined than others to vote for the BSP.

The empirical analysis shows that the rise of the BSP is primarily explained by an increased tendency of Scheduled Castes to vote in accordance with Dalit group interests. This change, in turn, is the result of several important changes from the 1970s onwards: the spread of education in combination with persisting socio-economic inequalities, the emergence of opposition parties that represent other caste categories, and the inclination of the BSP to present itself as a party that exclusively represents Dalits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Statsvetenskapliga institutionen , 2003. , 211 p.
Keyword [en]
Political science, Voting Behaviour, Party Competition, Political Cleavages, Caste Mobilisation, Scheduled Castes, Bahujan Samaj Party, Uttar Pradesh, India
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3460ISBN: 91-506-1675-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-3460DiVA: diva2:162909
Public defence
2003-05-22, Brusewitzsalen, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2003-04-29 Created: 2003-04-29Bibliographically approved

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