UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Indian National Congress Party after the dynasty Nikolenyi, Csaba


Rajiv Gandhi's violent death in May 1991 signalled the end of an entire era for the Congress Party: the long-lasting rule of the dynasty was over. Subsequent developments in the party have raised the question of change versus continuity. Has the end of the dynasty led to the birth of a new Congress, or will the dynastic party structures and organizational features continue into the post-Gandhi period? The argument that I will be advancing throughout the thesis is that structural continuity has characterized the organizational order of the party in its postdynastic period. The most obvious indicators of this continuity are that the party continues to be a deinstitutionalized, loosely structured coglomerate of political bosses with varying bases of support; the party remains paralyzed by factionalism at all levels, yet it escapes splits and schisms; and the Congress Prime Minister continues to be at the apex of the decision-making pyramid. The important question for political scientists to answer is why continuity has taken precedence over drastic change. I shall maintain that structural continuity in the party's organizational order has come about primarily as a result of environmental pressures exerted by the turbulence in the party system that was undergoing a fundamental transformation. The Indian party system changed from a predominant into a more competitive one in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the election results for 1989-91 period suggest. Under this environmental condition, it has been the requirement of organizational survival amidst external change that both necessitated and facilitated the continuation of the old order in the party.

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