Indian elections are around the corner and I am starting to compile links to read/follow. Yahoo and Google (also in hindi) seem like excellent first stops. Mark em. Yahoo's column aggregator is especially useful. But Google's "Quotes from our Leaders" has immediate applicability.("Had I been the country's home minister, I would have crushed Varun Gandhi under a roller and destroyed him without caring for the consequences for his hate speech against Muslims". Lalu Prasad - Apr 06, 2009)
*I apologize for the title.
*I apologize for the title. So you should Sepoy :) To be fair, few of the other quotes will be as colourful as Lalu's; he is always good for a soundbite or two and nobody knows how to get the English media slavering better than the Bihari Babu. Don't know what he is getting worked about though, he should have the Muslim vote pretty much tied up where he needs it. Am looking forward to the Nitish-Lalu contest however, should have more melodrama than a Star TV saas-bahu soap imo :D
And the two big TV news channels have decent sites as well (IBN: http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/index.html and NDTV: http://elections.ndtv.com/)
Conrad: The RJD did lose a lot more Muslim votes than it expected in the last assembly elections, a factor behind the state defeat to Nitish Kumar's Samta Party. sepoy: the BBC has a good site as well, including an all-India map that is easy on the eyes...
Conrad: There is lot of writing about class/caste fractures within the Muslim vote in Bihar, especially the impact of the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj which has shifted its support to the JD(U). Nitish is making the play for SC status for them. http://www.tehelka.com/story_main28.asp?filename=Cr140407Shadow_lines.asp Maneka Gandhi seems to be living the soap opera, from the wronged daughter-in-law, to the avenging widow to the outraged mother, she's played it all. Including the Ma-Behenji gaalis to Mayawati.
Red: Are you talking about the All India Backward Muslim Morcha? This is quite an interesting group I've been trying to follow for some time. Agree with you on caste/class fractures (I recall Frontline, in a detailed study of the 2002 elections in Bihar, found that Muslims who identified themselves as "Bhumihar" or "Rajput" tended to vote BJP)...
Just today, Nitish Kumar politely "dis-invited" Modi from campaigning in Bihar... On the "backward" Muslims/AIBMM, Yogi Sikand has done a lot of writing/publicity in this area (he used to run a great blog that has sadly fallen away): http://www.indiaclub.com/Shop/SearchResults.asp?ProdStock=17756 http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/yogi4.html [BTW, Sikand's books on "liminal" Muslim traditions, and his history of the Tablighi Jama'at, are highly recommended, especially given the paucity of relatively popular writing on these subjects...]
PS-- this year, all the razzmatazz is in Andhra Pradesh, with Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi's "Praja Rajyam" party giving sleepless nights to established parties in the state (not that it is going to win, but could well serve as spoiler); NTR Jr. campaigning for the Telugu Desam (led by Chandrababu Naidu, who stabbed his father-in-law and NTR Jr's grandfather, the legendary Telugu superstar NTR, in the back to take over the party) -- all this and a movement for a separate state in Telengana too, not to mention the Majlis-e-Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen, which (sadly) will likely win in Hyderabad's old city...
Red - I like Ali Anwar and I mentioned his book "Masawat ki Jung" on a previous thread about literature in Urdu/Hindi, as I think it is rare to find a book that discusses caste in the Muslim community much less to find one that isn't an academic tract in English!!! It was a well thought out arguement and obviously grounded in the author's own experience. I think we need to be careful of distinguishing between Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections; after all the RJD never won convincingly in LS elections at a time when they dominated the state in the 1990s but won across the board in 2004 - whereas they got trounced less than a year later in the state elections. I don't think voters suddenly changed their minds or reversed their decision in that course of time but reflect different priorities in different types of elections. It is also a function of the pre-poll alliances that each side will cobble together, with Congress, the RJD and all the major Left parties on one side; I would expect them to get the most of the Muslim vote share. You might recall that the Congress ran separately from the RJD in the 2005 contest with the LokJanshakti Party. The RJD also got hit with the record number of 'rebel' candidates as there was considerable discontent over the distribution of tickets in 2005. From the CSDS data I have seen - admittedly only for the 2004 LS elections; Muslims and Yadavs overwhelmingly voted for the RJD combine, something that over 60%-70%. Interestingly, Dalits who are the other main plank of support were much less in favour less than 50% and this community had cast their vote relatively evenly across all the major combines (with the RJD being the biggest of course). So it seems that the Dalit vote is the most split and the one up for grabs - imo anyway. The importance of this is reflected in the fact that Dalits constitute the biggest social block in the state, with the Yadavs being next. I have no idea whether the picture is different for state elections but this seems to be the pattern for LS ones. Q - Yes, I made some of the points in the reply to Red above. The problem with the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz and other bodies is that there already are several parties competing for the Backward-Dalit Muslim vote and they have by no means resolved their own internal conflicts, just like other OBC-Dalit divides elsewhere. The controversy over the Nitish govt's decision to give Mallicks Backward status in earlier this year reflects this. It is going to take a lot to dent and unify OBC-Dalit Muslims imo and Dalit Muslims will have a powerful alternative in the BSP, which has already shown it can win power and forge coalitions and is a national force now. You are absolutely right about Andhra politics but I am showing my northern bias here since I can only follow things in Hindi at best and have no knowledge of southern languages so this debate is shut off for me apart from what we see in the English press. Yeah, fiml stars have the razzmatazz but they often come off as damb squibs imo in elections; their posturing doesn't seem like they beleive it themselves, which is why I find it forced even for the ol melodrama - it is too much artifice and not enough heartfelt acting! and as for Maneka - Yawn, I found her boring in the 80s and she has only gotten worse with age.
Re: "Yeah, fiml stars have the razzmatazz but they often come off as damb squibs imo in elections; their posturing doesn't seem like they beleive it themselves..." Not in "the South" -- NTR was Chief Minister 7-9 months after launching his party, and it has remained the principal "anti-congress" force for well over two decades now (Telegu Desam); MGR in Tamil Nadu is of course the model for actor-success in politics, and his successor Jayalalitha at the helm of the AIADMK was an actress too. Even the lesser lights have played spoiler -- e.g. Vijaykanth's party got close to 7-10% (basically the proportion the BSP has been getting of late in Madhya Pradesh); under the Westminster system that means close to zero seats, but enough to serve as spoiler. Chiranjeevi is polling ~15% or so, and if that holds up I suspect the Telegu Desam will be very sorry he's in the race. [Aside: Chiru wrote a funny yet oddly touching "open letter" to Bush when the US invaded Iraq, let me see if I can dig that up...]
Shouldn't it be "Going Lok-o?"
More links in this post by Dina Mehta: http://dinamehta.com/blog/2009/04/07/informed-go-vote/
Q - I meant in terms of the entertainment factor; clearly the film industry has produced a lot of stars that go on to become major political figures and 'political cinema' plays a role you don't really see in the North in the same way. Biggest we came is AB's career and that wasn't really much to boast off (owed more to the proximity to Congress imo). I think Southern cinema is much better at identifying with the subaltern consciouness in a way that can be politically mobilised, unlike in other parts of India.
Ppersonally I feel MGR flunked on both the entertainment and the subaltern consciousness, and Jayalalitha has only gone further, but I generally agree with your point (for all her soft communal stance at times, one must give credit to Jayalalitha for focusing more on women's issue than previous Tamil Nadu governments/CMs have)...but man, youtube is a great treasure: the sight of all the Chiranjeevi rallies is thrilling! http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/chiranjeevi-files-papers-amid-fan-frenzy/ http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/political-theater-in-andhra-chiru-ntr-jr/ (I don't speak any Telugu, but these clips nevertheless speak volumes; the second one features NTR Jr. as well (campaigning for the Telugu Desam))...
congress may get rid of tytler: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Congress-may-dump-Tytler-to-secure-Sikh-votes/articleshow/4374095.cms here's the shoe attack (what an epedemic) that got Congress worried about the Sikh vote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhSnuITcQZk to his credit, he played it off well
http://www.nationalelectionwatch.org, or http://www.adrindia.org/home/index.asp While on the subject of film stars, some videos of Aamir Khan up there - apparently he's put in a lot of his own money into this campaign? Unfortunately not much comes up for Maharashtra MPs. This is the first time I'm in India for the Lok Sabha elections and boy does it feel good, even though it is going to kill me to stay home on election day. I don't know how true this is for other regional language papers, but the depth and quality of the Marathi papers' analysis of the Maharashtra seats and candidates, at least, far outdoes anything in the English press.