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The Welfarist Prime Minister: Explaining the National-State Election Gap

Engage, Economic and Political Weekly

Abstract

This article seeks to understand the puzzling disjuncture between the Bharatiya Janata Party‚Äôs sweeping electoral success in recent national elections and its lacklustre performance in state elections. I suggest that this phenomenon is a result of centralisation in welfare delivery, which leads to greater attribution of welfare benefits for the Prime Minister. In turn, state chief ministers who have built their reputation on welfare delivery, many of whom are in the Bharatiya Janata Party or allied with it, have been adversely impacted. The consequences for current and future patterns of state politics are described.