Political Culture

The shifts in Indian politics over the past seven decades have, without doubt, shaped the composition of the political power elite. Their caste, class and regional composition has certainly changed. The rise of intermediate castes, the OBCs, has been one of the major structural changes in both the class and caste composition of the ruling political class.

Yet, the landowning upper castes have retained their place of prominence and dominance in many regions. From the Jats and Rajputs of the north to the Marathas and Patels of western India and the Reddys, Kammas, Velamas, Chettiars, Nairs of the south, upper castes have retained their presence in politics.

The role of money power in politics has only increased with time and this is reflected in the wealth of elected politicians. For all his anti-elitism, Narendra Modi presides, along with his colleague Amit Shah, over the wealthiest and cashrich political party in India today.

With the decline of the Congress, the balance of power and wealth has shifted in favour of the BJP, which is one reason why the loss of power in wealthy and cash-rich Maharashtra would hurt the BJP. Politicians from the more developed states, like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Punjab-Haryana, as well as politicians with roots in regions where their access to natural resources has enriched them, are valuable assets for political parties and their leadership.

(From “India’s Power Elite: Class, Caste and a Cultural Revolution”)


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