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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

India has been the crucible of several types of populism over time. In the 1960s, it saw the rise of peasant populism, an ideology that erased class differentiation to promote a rural people vs. urbanites divide. In the 1970s, Mrs Gandhi hijacked socialism by claiming “Indira is India.” Since the 1980s, the surge of Hindu nationalism mobilized the majority community against Muslims and Christians. Besides these national trends, at the state level, populist leaders have also emerged popularizing regional identities against alien or corrupt national elites. Overall, the chapter views populism in India as primarily a relational and often highly personalized style of leadership that frequently circumvents institutions to privilege a direct connection between a leader and the people, variously defined.

Keywords: peasant politics, regionalism, socialism, personality cult, majoritarianism, ethno-religious nationalism

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