Social Change and the Changing Indian Voter: Consolidation of the BJP in India’s 2019 Lok Sabha Election

Date01 December 2019
Published date01 December 2019
DOI10.1177/2321023019874913
AuthorK. C. Suri
Subject MatterArticles
Article
Social Change and the Changing
Indian Voter: Consolidation of
the BJP in India’s 2019 Lok Sabha
Election
K. C. Suri1
Abstract
This article is about the changing voter in a changing India in the context of India’s Lok Sabha election
held in the year 2019. Positing a two-way relationship between social change and electoral politics, this
article analyses the sources for the success of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in mobilizing massive
support among various Hindu social groups. It examines the claims of the BJP leaders that the 2019
election has breached the barriers of caste and class. It takes the view that the social change over the
decades after independence, especially after the 1990s, led to the emergence of a new elite composed
of members from different social groups with shared values and social life willing to join hands for politi-
cal purposes and that led to the massive victory of the BJP in the absence of any other viable alternative.
Keywords
BJP, 2019 election, social change, electoral politics, social cleavages, caste politics, changing voter,
electoral volatility
Introduction
The victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha election marks the consolidation
of a new phase in India’s electoral democracy that began in 2014. In their moment of jubilation, some
BJP leaders claimed that the party in 2019 election has breached the barriers of caste, class, region and
the rural–urban divide. It is a ‘victory of chemistry of social strength over caste arithmetic’, said Prime
Minister Modi (Singh, 2019). Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, head of BJP’s think tank on policy and governance,
thought that the 2019 victory has changed the grammar of electoral politics in India. He claimed that
development and nationalism took the centre stage in the political discourse displacing the earlier one
confined to socialism, welfarism and patronage (Pioneer, 2019). In a cover story on elections soon after
the results were out, the weekly magazine affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the
Organiser, declared that the traditional understanding of caste as the lynchpin of electoral politics has
been challenged and changed forever (Kumar, 2019).
Studies in Indian Politics
7(2) 234–246, 2019
© 2019 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
in.sagepub.com/journals-permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/2321023019874913
journals.sagepub.com/home/inp
1 Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.
Corresponding author:
K. C. Suri, Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad,
Telangana 500046, India.
E-mail: surikc@gmail.com

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