Dalit assertion has been a central feature of the states in the
Hindi heartland since the mid-1980s, leading to the rise of
political consciousness and identity-based lower-caste parties. The
present study focuses on the different political response of the
Congress party to identity assertion in Madhya Pradesh under the
leadership of Digvijay Singh. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in
response to the strong wave of Dalit assertion that swept the
region, parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) used strategies of political
mobilisation to consolidate Dalit/backward votes and capture state
power. In Madhya Pradesh, in contrast, the Congress party and
Digvijay Singh at the historic Bhopal Conference held in January
2002 adopted a new model of development that attempted to mobilise
Dalits and tribals and raise their standard of living by providing
them economic empowerment. This new Dalit Agenda constitutes an
alternative strategy at gaining Dalit/tribal support through of
state-sponsored economic upliftment as opposed to the political
mobilisation strategy employed by the BSP in Uttar Pradesh. The
present study puts to test the limits of the model of state-led
development, of the use of political power by an enlightened
political elite to introduce change from above to address the
weaker sections of society. The working of the state is thus
analysed in the context of the society in which it is embedded and
the former's ability to insulate itself from powerful vested
interests. In interrogating this state-led redistributive paradigm,
the study has generated empirical data based on extensive fieldwork
and brought to the fore both the potentials and the limitations of
using the model of 'development from above' in a democracy. It
suggests that the absence of an upsurge from below limits the
ability of an enlightened political elite that mans the
developmental state to introduce social change and help the weaker
sections of society.
|Country of origin:
||216 x 138 x 29mm (L x W x T)
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