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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hindu nationalism, electoral politics, and the rise of the Bharatiya Janata party in India Lewis, Angela Rose


This thesis examines the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its remarkable success in the 1989 and 1991 elections in India, to the point where it has become the leading opposition party in India's national parliament. The BJP's powerful "Hindutva" ideology, based on the idea of a Hindu nation, has propelled the party to the forefront of Indian politics, and poses a major challenge to India's secular democracy. The central argument of this thesis is that by appealing to Hindu nationalist sentiments, the BJP has successfully "outbid" the Congress Party for the loyalty of Hindu nationalist groups, and successfully transformed public discontent into votes. Through an examination of the BJP's strategy and performance, this paper also concludes that the rise of the BJP has accelerated the pace of political decay in India. The BJP's rise coincides with heightened communal tensions, political instability, and a rise in populist politics, which undermines the institutions of political democracy in India.

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