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Class background influencing Delhi voters` choices

Last Updated: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 18:21

New Delhi: Is the class background of urban voters in Delhi influencing their electoral choices? Why has Delhi remained a bipolar polity for long? Social scientists debated the impact of Delhi`s changing population profile at a discussion here and noted that the class divide was visible in the political choices of voters and also in the issues they identify with.

Speaking at discussion on the release of the book “Changing Electoral Politics in Delhi” here on Wednesday evening, political activist and social scientist Yogendra Yadav said that there were not sufficient debates on voting patterns in India.

He said the book speaks about people belonging to same caste but with different economic backgrounds voting differently.

“How class and caste interact is beginning to emerge as a factor in Delhi...Brahmins of different (economic) class vote differently. Dalits of different class vote differently,” Yadav said.

He said there was a “straight picture of class divide” on issues such as privatisation of services.

“Lower income classes are more in support of public provisioning,” he said.

Yadav, who is also a leader of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), said there were several questions about polity in Delhi, where assembly elections will be held before the year is out.

“Why Delhi does not have regional politics of its own (unlike Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai)? Why has Delhi remained bipolar for long,” he asked, adding his was the first book on the national capital`s electoral politics.

Sanjay Kumar, the book`s author and a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), said that assembly polls in Delhi witness more class- based voting against that based on caste.

“The voters of Delhi may be divided into three broad economic classes - the upper, the middle and poor,” he said, noting that there was a trend in voting patterns of these classes in each election.

He said the book analyses the pattern of electoral politics in Delhi using the four assembly polls held so far and survey data on the opinion and attitude of voters.

Sanjay Kumar said that large scale migration to the city has changed the profile of voters.

“There is a sizeable migrant population in Delhi from the lower economic class...Delhi hardly looks like one city. It seems there are three cities merged into one - of upper class, the middle class and the poor. These cities do not have geographical boundaries (but) deep social, economic and political boundaries,” he said.

Suhas Palshikar of Department of Politics and Public Administration, Pune University, said that nature of politics will change in Delhi in the coming years irrespective of which party wins the coming assembly polls.

Noting that there was a class division within caste groups, Palshikar called for greater focus on questions of “caste-vote relationship” and the "shape of identity politics" in urban India.

The 450 page book has been brought out by Sage publications.

Delhi has been ruled by the Congress for the past 15 years. The Bharatiya Janata Party won the first assembly election held in 1993 and the Congress thereafter made it three-in-a-row. The AAP, which is making its electoral debut, is toiling to make the contest triangular.


First Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 18:21

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