Book review: Amit Ahuja, Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements

Publication Date01 Dec 2020
DOI10.1177/2321023020963418
AuthorHarish S. Wankhede
SubjectBook Reviews
16INP963408_rev1.indd Book Reviews
303
visible and succeeded. It would be interesting to note why this long history of sedition and other free
speech restrictions in a liberal democracy have not provoked a similar challenge. For now, these books
undoubtedly have squarely put free speech on the agenda of those not just studying India but also other
liberal democracies.
Jinee Lokaneeta
Drew University
Madison, NJ, United States
E-mail: jlokanee@drew.edu
Amit Ahuja, Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements. Delhi: Oxford University
Press. 2019. 238 pp. `550. ISBN: 9780190916435
DOI: 10.1177/2321023020963418
Dalit politics, based on the assessment that social elites lack ethical convictions about the emancipation
of the Dalits and under the leadership of Dr Ambedkar, has emerged as a fearless challenge to Congress’
parental and moralist appeals. The post-Ambedkar Dalit political mobilization has also been admired as
a substantive and transformative force. However, the Dalit assertion is also belittled as a narrow political
act, or looked down upon as narrow ethnic mobilization merely for a community-centric political
development. Recent political developments demonstrate that there is no ‘Dalit bloc’ at the national
level. Even in states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, where there was ideological conformity with
Ambedkarite principles, the Dalit voters are increasingly heterogenous.
Amit Ahuja’s work explores and examines the growing complexities of the Dalit mobilization as
political and social movements. It is a grand project to map the Dalits’ social and political mobilization
and its impact in transforming India’s democracy. It demonstrates that the Dalits have developed a
confederation-like structure and have emerged as crucial social and political actors at various regional
levels. The author utilizes extensive field surveys and interviews to examine the success and failures of
four major ‘Dalit’ political parties: the Viduthalai...

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