Published by HarperCollins
Paperback | 336 pp | INR 599
Available wherever books are sold | Releasing May 13, 2023
“The profound social shifts in the post-Modi BJP have been observed but rarely dissected minutely. Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar have filled this gap substantially in this study of Dalit politics in Uttar Pradesh following the decline of the BSP. The book has added immensely to our understanding of the political churning in India.” – Swapan Dasgupta, Journalist and Political Commentator
“In Maya, Modi, Azad, Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar investigate the place of Dalits in Indian politics at a time when it is dominated by Hindutva nationalism. Reviewing the rise of Dalit politicians from the effort to form a ‘rainbow party with a Dalit core’ to an era where fragmentation and sub-regionalization seem to be increasing, the book covers considerable ground with lucidity and thoroughness. A richly researched and insightful work on a crucial subject.” – Shashi Tharoor, Lok Sabha MP.
About the Book
The Dalit political landscape in India offers a difficult analytical puzzle. The last decade has witnessed the decline of the Bahujan Samaj Party and identity politics, the shift of a section of Dalits towards the Bharatiya Janata Party and its redefined subaltern Hindutva, as well as protests by new Dalit organizations against atrocities and right-wing hegemony. Dalit politics today is thus marked by two contrasting trends: political protest against but also electoral preference for the right wing.
The story of how the Dalit discourse has responded to the changing sociopolitical context unfolds against this backdrop. Maya, Modi, Azad maps these shifts, with particular focus on Uttar Pradesh. It is the state where Mayawati, who sought to create a new ‘umbrella party’ with a Dalit core, and later, Narendra Modi, who attracted a section of Dalits into the saffron fold, have shaped Dalit politics over the last two decades. It is also where a new Dalit leader, Chandrashekhar Azad, is challenging both Hindutva hegemony and the BSP, and is attempting to revive the Dalit movement.
Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar’s astute and insightful analysis of this triangular contestation is significant for understanding not just Dalit but democratic politics in India as it heads into what is likely to be a deeply divisive general election in 2024.
According to the authors Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar, “The decline of the BSP leading to fragmentation of Dalits and shift of a section towards the BJP’s redefined subaltern Hindutva, is a seminal political development. This complex dual process is marked by the simultaneity of political outrage against atrocities and electoral preference for the BJP. Our focus is on the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Mayawati sought to create a new ‘umbrella’ party with a Dalit core, where Modi is attracting an increasing number of Dalits into the saffron fold, and where a new leader Azad is challenging both, attempting to revive the Ambedkarite Dalit movement. We hope our narrative of this triangular contestation, provides an understanding of not just the new Dalit discourse, but democratic politics in India, as we head into what is likely to be a highly contested general election in 2024.”
About the Authors
Sudha Pai became interested in Dalit politics in the mid-1990s with the emergence of Mayawati on the political landscape, reflected in her book Dalit Assertion and the Unfinished Democratic Revolution: The BSP in Uttar Pradesh (Sage, India, 2002). She is the author of several books, including Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh (Routledge India, 2011) and Everyday Communalism (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Sajjan Kumar is a researcher and a political scientist. Currently, he is a Fellow at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. His writing has been published in The Hindu, Indian Express, The New Indian Express and The Times of India, among others. He is associated with PRACCIS, a Delhi research Institution specializing in fieldwork based political research.
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