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Category: India Votes 2014

Caste protests in Delhi spring from deep economic distress

Written by Diego Maiorano.

After days of stalemate, the Indian army has taken control of the water supply to the capital New Delhi. The canal had been damaged by protesters from the Jat caste, who are demanding they be added to the list of castes eligible for reserved government jobs.

So far, 19 people are confirmed to have died in the protests. Freight trains and buses were set on fire, as were at least seven railway stations, and hundreds of people had to flee their homes.

These shocking protests have come from a seemingly unlikely source. The Jats of north India are traditionally a farming community. In the state of Haryana, where the protests are concentrated, Jats are the dominant landowning caste. Since independence, they have been able to use their dominance over the ownership of land to wield influence in politics and other sectors of the economy; today, they are without doubt the single most powerful community in the state.

The rise and rise of Narendra Modi

By Katharine Adeney

As the results began to be released at the end of the Indian election in May 2014 (which took over 5 weeks to complete) it became apparent that Modi had managed what few, if any, observers would have predicted; a majority of seats for one party: his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  As the results rolled in, soon-to-be prime minister Modi preached a message of unity, promising to ‘keep everyone together’, and, despite the overall majority secured by the BJP, to continue to work with his alliance partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Modi was Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat in 2002 when a massacre of between 1-2000 Muslims took place. Although he has never been convicted of crimes relating to this massacre, which human rights organisations concluded were abetted by the state, several people associated with the BJP were.  Many countries consequently refused him visas (including the UK and the US).  These visa restrictions were lifted when it became likely that he would be India’s next premier.  That Modi was a controversial choice as prime ministerial candidate can be shown by the fact that one of the partners of the BJP in the state of Bihar resigned from the BJP–led NDA alliance in protest at his elevation in 2013.  Many observers were unsure if the BJP would manage to appeal beyond its core base with Modi as their leader.

Modi versus the BJP

By Dishil Shrimankar 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has created history by crossing the 100-seat mark in the recently concluded state-assembly elections in Maharashtra, a state in western India. The BJP has single-handedly won 123 seats out of the 288 member-House. This is historic, as no party has been able to cross the mark since the early 1990s. In the 1990 state assembly polls, Congress had secured as many as 141 seats. Since then, no national or regional party had come anywhere near the 100-seat mark. Although the party is falling short of the 141-halfway mark (which is required to form a majority government in the House), the party’s victory is impressive considering the fragmented nature of Maharashtra’s party system.