March 2024

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM IST

Room 300, School of Arts and Sciences
Central Campus
Ahmedabad University


Changing Party Systems of India: Rise and Decline of the Congress Party

Social Sciences Division Seminar Series
Rahul Verma | Speaker at Ahm

Rahul Verma

Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Ashoka University

Electoral defeats are routine outcomes for political parties, however, some political parties find it extremely hard to revive after successive setbacks. This talk gives primacy to endogenous factors over exogenous changes that hinders party adaptation to emerging challenges. It examines the trajectory of the Indian National Congress (INC) post-1978 and analyses the factors that have contributed to its decline. It revisits the history of the Congress and questions whether identity assertion, leadership issues, organizational atrophy, and the shrinking ideological space for the Congress party is sufficient to explain its decline. The talk draws on multiple data points to provide evidence - electoral returns to map the geographical shrinking of the party, party documents including manifestos to understand ideological positioning, opinion polls to  analyse social base, fieldwork and expert surveys to measure organisational strength of the  party, candidate affidavits to understand recruitment patterns, among others. The talk aims to contribute to the literature on party adaptation and decline in general, and India's party politics in particular.


Rahul Verma

Rahul Verma is Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, Ashoka University, Sonipat. He has a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include political representation, political parties, and voting behaviour.  He is a regular columnist for various news platforms and has published papers in several peer-reviewed academic journals. And, he is a regular TV commentator on elections, party politics, voting behaviour, and public opinion polls. His book co-authored with Pradeep Chhibber, Ideology and Identity: The Changing Party Systems of India, develops a new approach to defining the contours of what constitutes an ideology in multi-ethnic countries such as India. He recently co-edited a volume with Sudha Pai & Shyam Babu - Dalits in the New Millennium.