The politics of entitlement

Affirmative action and strategic voting in Uttar Pradesh, India

in Focaal
Author:
Lucia Michelutti University College London l.michelutti@ucl.ac.uk

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Oliver Heath University of London oliver.heath@rhul.ac.uk

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This article focuses on the struggles and shifting political strategies of two major political players in northern India: the Yadavs (a low-to-middle ranking pastoral agricultural caste) and the dalits (former untouchables, which in the region mainly come from the Chamar caste) and their political parties, the Samaj wadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, respectively. Both communities (and political parties) have strongly benefited from affirmative action policies over the last three decades. We argue that that these affirmative action policies, and the political rhetoric that has tended to accompany them, have been “vernacularized“ in local sociocultural structures, which in turn has helped to produce folk theories of democracy and social justice that are directly and indirectly legitimizing conflict, and producing new forms of caste-based strategic voting, based on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

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Focaal

Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

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