Rethinking Institutional Theories of Political Moderation: The Case of Hindu Nationalism in India, 1996-2004
Comparative Politics, 38, 3 (April 2006): 317-337.
11 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2016
Date Written: April 1, 2006
This article examines whether India’s democratic regime moderated the politics of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during its tenure in office between 1996 and 2004. It demonstrates how the centrist logic of India’s plurality-rule electoral system, parliamentary form of cabinet government and semi-consociational federal party system compelled the BJP to moderate its official ideological position after 1996. However, it also reveals the ways in which the BJP circumvented these institutional constraints in various realms, manipulated the terms of discourse to its own partisan advantage and shifted the center of gravity in politics to the right during this period. In doing so, the article elucidates the strengths and weaknesses of institutional theories in explaining the prospects and assessing the dangers of militant ethnic-religious nationalism.
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