Making sense of democracy: Musahars of Eastern Uttar Pradesh

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The trajectory that democracy acquires and the promise that it holds varies from community to community. This chapter based on extensive fieldwork in the Maharajganj Lok Sabha constituency in UP examines what democracy means for communities situated on the margins of the body politic by taking up the case of the Musahars, a Dalit community. It is argued that the enthusiastic participation of the Musahar community in electoral politics is indicative of a strong linkage between the election and the everyday life of the community. Voting, in this sense, is not just another routine exercise for them, but a well-thought-out action to pursue ends that are specific but have a larger connotation of identity, recognition, and respect. This identity is not just of being Dalit (the exploited), or the poorest among the poor; but of being a Musahar, being a human, a citizen. In this journey of finding political space, they have aligned with the larger Dalit constituency. But having internalized the democratic ethos they are now ready to consider options. The logic of the secret ballot is clear to them and they guard this privilege to the last moment lest they are declared supporters of one or the other block.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Specialist publicationThe Loop
PublisherEuropean Consortium for Political Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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