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Darjeeling ReconsideredHistories, Politics, Environments$
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Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199483556

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199483556.001.0001

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Electoral Competition and the Gorkhaland Movement

Electoral Competition and the Gorkhaland Movement

(p.99) 4 Electoral Competition and the Gorkhaland Movement
Darjeeling Reconsidered

Bethany Lacina

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines movements for greater local autonomy in Darjeeling since India’s independence. Political leaders generally mobilize to demand autonomy during periods of heightened electoral competition. These movements tend to fade when electoral competition is low. When mass movements have won autonomous institutions for Darjeeling, movement leaders have used these institutions to repress local electoral competition. Without electoral pressure, incumbent leaders in Darjeeling are feckless in pressing autonomy demands. Both the national government in New Delhi and the West Bengal state government in Kolkata have encouraged the anti-democratic features of Darjeeling’s autonomous institutions as a means of maintaining stability. I make this case by showing the parallels in the careers of Deoprakash Rai, Subash Ghisingh, and Bimal Gurung. Each leader de-escalated demands for Darjeeling’s autonomy as his personal power consolidated.

Keywords:   elections, politics, leadership, autonomy, power, political biography, legitimacy, subnationalism

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