Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Rani D. Mullen

Committee Members

Sharan Grewal

Chitralekha Zutshi


This research paper will discuss the contemporary limitations of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Hindutva ideology. The key research question will be examining 5 states and union territories to examine why the BJP has been unable to win or maintain power in the state. The states in question will be Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Delhi. Each state was chosen for their high population (more than 10 million), the recentness of its state election (from 2019 through 2021), their geographical variety, and having extant political systems that were upended by the rise of the BJP. A key question of this paper will also be looking at the 2017 Uttar Pradesh election and the state in relation to the other 4 to understand the forces at play for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh election and whether the BJP administration can win re-election. Another key question will focus on opposition parties in each case and examine why state leaders and parties have been more effective in dealing with the rise of the BJP than the Indian National Congress (INC). The failure of the INC in each state, and the systemic problems it faces, will also be examined. Lastly, the theoretical basis of the paper will be through the lens of political entrepreneurship, specifically that each successful party attempts to fill political “holes” in discourse that the INC failed, or was unable, to address. This paper will build on the excellent research at the state level examining the rise of the BJP and Hindutva by Gilles Verniers on Uttar Pradesh, Kumar G Run on Tamil Nadu, Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha on West Bengal, Dhaval Kulkarni on Maharashtra, Andrew Wyatt’s writing on Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi, and the all-India research by Peter Ronald deSouza. deSouza’s work will be key as his theory that in order to oppose the BJP’s Hindutva, one must form a separate cultural framework based on liberal, inclusive Indian values, which will be a key framework for the paper as well.