The Spectral Presence of Business in India’s 2019 Election

Date01 December 2019
AuthorAseema Sinha,Andrew Wyatt
Published date01 December 2019
Subject MatterArticles
The Spectral Presence of Business
in India’s 2019 Election
Aseema Sinha1
Andrew Wyatt2
Shifts in the balance of India’s economy towards private production have re-opened a debate over the
role of the business in its polity. Business interests have found new ways to influence the state at differ-
ent levels and through multiple institutions. This article concentrates on the composition of the 17th
Lok Sabha and its porosity towards business (around 28.4% of these MPs have self-reported business
careers). A growing of number of ‘industrialists’ and entrepreneurs have branched out into a legislative
career; they complement a fast-emerging group of entrepreneurial politicians, who already use their
legislative and institutional location to develop business interests for themselves and their families. We
find that the influence and power of business has become diffuse and central at the same time; it seeped
into every aspect of the election campaign and voting process: political recruitment, finance, issues, and
policies—in tangible and intangible ways. This spectral presence of business is shaping Indian elections,
parties, and democracy and in turn consolidating India’s economic reforms and pro-business polity.
Developmental state, pluralism, political finance, political recruitment, porous state, entrepreneurial
politicians, business-state relations
The marathon Indian elections have concluded with a decisive result: the re-election of the Bharitya
Janata Party (BJP) with 303 seats in a 543 seat elected House of the People or the Lok Sabha. The domi-
nance of regional parties in Andhra Pradesh (YSRCP), Tamil Nadu (DMK), and the lonely presence of
the Congress party in Kerala are balanced by the advance of the BJP in Assam, West Bengal, and
the Northeast. The BJP has now won the western and northern states and is on the verge of capturing
India’s east. We may be witnessing a consolidation of a BJP hegemony, and India may be moving
towards a new one-party dominant system with the BJP and its saffron organizations at its centre. While
analysts are poring over the details of vote share, and party strategy during the elections, we do not know
Studies in Indian Politics
7(2) 247–261, 2019
© 2019 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2321023019874914
1 Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA, USA
2 University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
Corresponding author:
Andrew Wyatt, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TU, UK.

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