Dalit Parties and the Dilemmas of Democratisation in Tamil Nadu

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Abstract

In 1999 the largest Dalit movement organisation in Tamil Nadu abandoned a decade long boycott of elections and entered party politics as the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (Liberation Panther Party, VCK). The focus of the article will be on the processes of institutionalisation both into political institutions and into socio-cultural ways of doing politics. It will chart both how the party has changed as a result of entering formal politics, and the ways in which it has managed to change the institutions it entered. Looking at institutionalisation in this way problematises the usual focus on a party’s electoral success or failure and compels us to analyse their political performance within its specific context. I show how institutionalisation in Tamil Nadu has taken particular forms which have some benefits for VCK supporters, whilst also creating a rift between the party and its core support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Indian Politics
Volume4
Issue number1
Early online date16 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2016

Keywords

  • institutionalisation
  • caste politics
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Dalits
  • social movements

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