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Okayama, Seiko (2024) Minority Recruitment and Intra-party Politics: Muslim Candidates and the Congress Party in Gujarat, India. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London.

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National and state-level studies have shown that Hindu majoritarian political culture and Hindu–Muslim polarisation have been central to the marginalisation of Muslims in India. This thesis investigates the role of these factors at the local level, focusing on the internal politics of the Indian National Congress party (or Congress), which has remained relatively neglected. Through more than 100 interviews, it details how the decline of local Muslim candidates was brought about through the interaction of emerging Hindu majoritarianism with the dynamics of intra-Congress politics. Detailed case studies in the state of Gujarat illustrate how arbitrary accusations of gangsterism and prevailing factionalism within the party contributed to the marginalisation of Muslim leaders within Congress. Overall, it reveals that the decline in Congress Muslim candidates was related to the subordinate positions that Muslim leaders held within the party, which intertwined with the ongoing religious polarisation driven by Hindu nationalist groups, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Based on interviews and archival research conducted during fieldwork lasting more than 15 months, this thesis provides a nuanced picture of 1980s politics, a turning point in Indian political history that scholars have not meticulously examined so far. By scrutinising the grassroots scenario during the 1980s, this thesis uncovers the micro-level dynamics of this period, which paved the way for the current establishment of ethnic democracy, where Hindu majoritarianism is eliminating the political significance of minorities.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Rochana Bajpai
Date Deposited: 10 May 2024 14:20

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