Dialogue  January-March, 2010, Volume 11 No. 3

Representation, Participation and Empowerment: From Citizen-Consorts to Citizens?

Anupama Roy

During the campaign for the Vice Presidential election in 2007, a journalist asked Hamid Ansari how he would reconcile his role as a career bureaucrat with the political role that he would be expected to play as the Vice President of India. Hamid Ansari responded by saying that he saw no contradiction between the two roles; indeed he saw himself primarily as a citizen, and a citizen by definition was political. Inadvertently, Ansari was subscribing to the public, political and participatory character of citizenship, which is embedded in an active/thick notion of republican citizenship. A defining feature of citizenship distinguishing it from subject-hood is a sense of belonging, horizontal camaraderie, and full and equal membership in the political community.  The latter derives not only from the equal protection of the autonomous space of the individual but also through an ethic of participation. The ethic of participation in turn makes for thick citizenship as distinct from a thin or passive notion of citizenship. Active citizenship is embedded in the continual creation of public spaces through dialogue, deliberation, expression and demonstration within a mutually agreed framework of democratic norms.

A strand within citizenship theory sees the idea of activity and participation as the crux of citizenship, giving it historical validity as a momentum concept (Hoffman 2004) and as a countervailing force against domination in all its manifestations, by foregrounding its relational and collective aspects. Politics is integral to such a framework, which is conceived not merely in terms of institutions through which an authoritative allocation of values is made, nor only as understanding processes through which power permeates and makes itself manifest in society and polity. Rather it is understood as processes through which the constitution of such power and its institutionalisation may be continually opened up for scrutiny and transformative change, in order to make its spread ‘democratic’, and coincident with principles of popular sovereignty and horizontal equality.

In this paper, I shall problematise the notion of active/political citizenship, to show its troubled relationship with the residual citizens, that is those categories of citizens which are edged out from universal citizenship, or are included differentially as graded/differential citizens. Indeed, the universal citizen spelling unbridled public activity, and its specific – the marginal, the exceptional, the residual, the special and separate categories of citizens –  that is, the ‘equal/universal’ and the ‘different/particular’ have framed the contours of women’s engagement with citizenship and political participation. Feminist concerns with ‘politics’ and the ‘political’ involve a ‘double movement towards both critique and recuperation’ (Phillips 1998: 4). At the crux of the feminist critique has been the analytical worth of categories spelling oppositional duality, which it has for quite some time questioned for being consonant with frameworks of domination, viz., patriarchy, or with the ideology and practices of exploitative rule, viz., colonialism. As far as recuperation is concerned feminists have chosen different paths, either through equal access or presence in the public-political, or, alternatively, seeing the personal and political as a bridged/breached continuum, reconstituting thereby their relationship and content.

At the crux of this reconstruction, however, is not the dissolving of politics as a distinct category, but rather a ‘calling back to politics’, bringing in its wake the ‘relocation’ and ‘reconstitution’ of the abstract citizen. The process of relocation is central to the project of building democratic citizenship, since the abstract, unmarked and masked citizen integral to liberalism is constitutive of the dichotomies of social and political life. Feminists have also shown how the idea of citizenship has been especially inimical to women, either excluding them altogether from the political community as in the classical tradition, or including them differentially, as citizen-consorts or on the basis of their socially useful roles as mothers. Women have taken different routes to overcome their exclusion and dismantle the differential terms of inclusion in the political community. In the process, they have subscribed to different perspectives on politics, political community and political participation. Until recently the rights discourse had been predominant, with women struggling to achieve equal rights with men in the civil, political and social spheres, considering it as crucial to their achievement of full citizenship. While recognising the importance of a rights-based approach to equality and changes in law as the means by which to achieve this, feminists see the rights discourse as limited, narrowly focused, legalistic, individualistic and ‘male inspired’. There have been two main sources of feminist challenge to a rights-based citizenship, centering on (a) political participation, and (b) promoting care as a citizenship responsibility. In its recuperation mode, feminist politics concerns itself with comprehending the ways in which differentiated citizenship reproduces itself so that it does not silence or marginalise women and become a dangerous ‘neutral’ abstraction like the masked citizen. Guarding against this abstraction involves not only a reconstruction of the private/public distinction so that its ‘recurring power’ may be rolled back, but also entails taking into account the differences that exist among women – of race, class, caste etc. – that determine their specific experiences of citizenship. It is only by comprehending these differences that the specificity of women’s experiences can come together in broad political alliances, alliances that are not fragmented along the lines of differences nor forged through their occlusion, but rather as struggles that weave them together through action and engagement with specific and shared/common experiences of oppression. Thus while transformative politics is central to the feminist project, it does not automatically assume a unity of women in a unified feminist politics.

Feminist concerns with the idea of the political and feminist politics have unfolded around a series of debates around women’s political subjectivities, and the problems with articulating a unified feminist universal. While women’s struggles in India around political participation, and reservation of seats had a relatively short history coinciding with the national liberation movement, the debates on suffrage in colonial India give an insight into the contentious issues that ‘vote for women’ raised, as well as the complex interlocking of ideological formulations, over the issue of women’s ‘proper’ place and the extent/nature of rights ‘suited’ to it. Significantly, the feminist ‘consensus’ on the issue shrouded at least three contentious positions: (a) the nationalist patriots deriving their identity as women from a ‘common’ and ‘equal’ citizenship uniting the nation, (b) women constituting a we – identified as a group apart - with special interests requiring special provisions, (c) minority (Muslim) women, identifying a further specialisation of interest within the category women. The emergence of the we women and its association with reservation of seats, was subsequently overshadowed by the nationalist patriotism of women citizens after 1930, under the overriding influence of Gandhi and the national movement. The question of reservation of seats put women’s organisations in a situation where, the ideal of citizenship towards which the demand for franchise worked was fractured by demands for special provisions emanating from among their own ranks. The introduction of minority women as differentiated-women, problematised both the unitary identity of women as well as the nationalist patriotism of women citizens. Some of these debates resonated in the nineteen eighties, in a political context where the ‘politics of presence’ and the corresponding question of identity became increasingly significant.  Amidst a reconfiguration of the frameworks of universalism, the acceptance of ‘difference’, of class, caste, religion, sexuality etc., as constitutive of the diversity of women’s experience, gave critical reflexivity to the feminist engagements with universal citizenship. The emergence of dalit feminist voices, from the mid 1980s drew attention to caste identities which had hitherto been assumed as transcendable for the larger sisterhood among women.  In the sections that follow, this paper will examine the manner in which debates pertaining to representation, participation and empowerment have juxtaposed in recent times, and their implication for articulating women as citizens.    

Political participation, representation and gender

Effective political participation and representation of specific groups, women in particular, and the terms of their inclusion – as voters and representatives - have been critical issues for the women’s movement for a long time. The earlier campaigns for women’s vote as in the struggle for women’s suffrage in western countries and the campaign for universal suffrage in colonial India were couched in the languages of emancipation of women, equality, justice/fairness, and human rights.  The ‘empowerment approach’ to political representation was a later development, when it came to be advocated in the 1990s as an enabling condition opening up spaces for critical action and transformative politics. As is well known, the replacement of the politics of ideas with the politics of presence was also accompanied by an emphasis on women’s presence in public/political/decision-making bodies in a ‘critical mass’. This position holds that the presence of women in a ‘critical mass’ would set in motion a process that would engender politics. Others have advocated that a truly transformative politics has to be seen in terms of ‘critical action’ rather than critical mass (Dahlerup 2001), foregrounding the necessity of moving beyond numbers into the realm of transformative actions.

While questions of women’s representation in elected bodies and positions of political decision-making, and their visibility in the political process have been raised for a long time, questions pertaining to available choices in electoral design and their relative effectiveness in assuring adequate representation for women, facilitating their emergence as a critical mass, have begun to be asked relatively recently. Among these, the ‘quota’ system or reservation of seats in elected bodies, aiming at ‘guaranteed outcome’, has become the most contentious. These questions have prompted animated debates and generated areas of tension around ‘appropriate’ and ‘effective’ electoral systems, compelling a more rigorous examination of the ways in which democracies have addressed issues concerning the structural and societal constraints that contribute to edging out of social groups from the electoral process. At a general level, debates around models of representation ultimately have at their core the issue of (in)adequacy of representative democracy, in particular questions around universal and differentiated/proportionality model, in particular the ‘participatory or political deficit’ that representative democracy is seen as entailing, in comparison with direct or participatory democracy - the elusive ideal for modern political systems. The focus is not only on ‘appropriate’ systems of representation but also on the ways in which the system is able to translate itself into an ‘effective’ system, bridging thereby the difference between what Mills calls ‘talking’ and ‘doing’ systems rather than merely ‘descriptive’/’mirror imaging’ and mimetic representation of groups.

The late nineteen nineties and the period thereafter saw a rallying of forces among women’s groups on the issue of reservation for women in elected bodies. The struggle to enhance women’s representation in elected bodies, which had first emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, had been revisited in the 1970s by the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI). The Towards Equality report brought out by CSWI drew attention to the deeply entrenched discriminatory structures that inhibited women’s representation in political bodies, and to the fact that the number of women legislators was declining as a result of the reluctance of political parties to field women candidates. The Committee recommended one-third reservation for women in elected bodies at the panchayat level. A demand for increased representation of women was made again in the late 1980s, calling for reservation up to one-third in grass-roots bodies for local-self government – to throw up ‘new leadership from below’. The National Perspective Plan for women issued by the government in 1988, under pressure from the women’s movement, recommended a 30 percent reservation of seats for women at the panchayat and zilla prishad levels. In 1993 the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts provided constitutional recognition and status to local elected bodies in villages (the panchayats) and cities (the municipalities), respectively. Apart from putting in place institutions of local governance and decentralising power structures, the amendments also sought to deepen democracy by ensuring that hitherto excluded social groups like women, Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) were adequately represented in these bodies. The amendments provided, therefore, reservations for all these social groups, with the condition that no less than a third of the seats (including those reserved for women belonging to the SC and the ST communities) be reserved for women.

While reservations for women in panchayati raj institutions have set in motion a process of political and economic self-determination for women at local levels embodying what is called empowerment for women, the representation of women in Parliament has remained remarkably low ranging from an average of 5 percent till the nineteen nineties when it increased to an average of 8 percent, to 8.8 percent in 1999, coming down to 8.26 percent in 2004, and climbing to around 10 percent in 2009. The struggle for reserving seats for women in parliament continues as a 1996 Bill put before Parliament for its consideration remains deferred with political parties failing to arrive at a ‘consensus’ on introducing it. While women from all communities are under-represented, Muslim women’s representation has remained especially low (Kumar, unpublished paper). The caste-class composition of women members of parliament, moreover, shows that class forms an important factor in the successful inclusion of women into the political system in decision-making positions. (Rai 2002). The smaller proportion of women in Lok Sabha is replicated in the state legislative assemblies as well.  The number of women legislators remains low in single digits for almost every state (Deshpande 2004).

Moreover, the proportion of women candidates in all major political parties has remained low at around 10 percent of the total candidates nominated by the party.  While political parties seem to have doubted their winning ability, election data shows that there is no significant difference in the success rates for men and women, implying that voters are not apprehensive of electing women to the parliament (Deshpande 2004: 5433). Moreover, election data shows that there is no correlation between women’s turn out and the number of women elected as representatives. The year 1998 showed the highest female poll percentage in the 1990s at 57.69 percent, coming close to the two highs in the 1980s (58.59 percent in 1984 and 57.31 percent in 1989). In the corresponding years the percentage of women representatives in the Lok Sabha was 7.9 percent in 1984 which was an increase from 5.1 percent in 1980.  In 1980, however, the percentage dropped at 5.3 percent, to rise again to 7.9 percent in 1991. For the 1990s high the corresponding percentage of women representatives was 7.9 percent, almost one percentage point lower than the highest achieved in the subsequent year at 8.8. percent. In the same year, however, the female poll percentage dropped from 57.69 percent of 1998 to 55.63 percent (Ibid).  

Election Commission data shows that there has been an overall increase in the size of the electorate and in the numbers of women and men voters over the years, alongside, however, a consistent gender gap. Both the Election Commission and the National Election Survey data show that women have consistently turned out to vote less than men although the gender gap or the turnout differential between men and women has decreased over the years, steadying at 8 percent through the elections of 1998, 1999 and 2004. In an interesting analogy, Sudhir Varma, the Chief Election Officer in the Government of Rajasthan at the time of doing his study, extended the category ‘missing women’, normally used in the context of the declining sex ratio, to women absent from the electoral rolls (Varma 1997: 79-124). Varma points out that while the trend of decline in the sex ratio in India has been primarily in the 0-18 age group which is the non-voting population, and the sex ratio of the voting population is better than the general sex ratio, the electoral sex ratio under ideal conditions should have reflected this. Yet, the electoral sex ratio (ESR) is actually adverse. In the 1991 Lok Sabha elections, for example out of a total of 49.8 crore voters, only 23.6 crore were women, which meant that nearly a core women voters were left out of the voters list. While the constitution of ESR is complex, a pattern of absences may be identified in terms of differences across states, between rural and urban constituencies, between general and reserved constituencies, as well as among reserved constituencies across states (Ibid).

Despite the gender gap, one can identify ‘a definite participatory upsurge’ among Indian women in the 1990s (Yadav 2000, Deshpande 2004), seen both in terms of increase in the proportion of women voters among total voters, and their turnout. While 1984 remained the peak for women voter percentage, in 1998 the female poll percentage reached close to the landmark of 1984 and 1989.  Unlike the peak in the nineteen eighties where the increase was associated with the fortunes of the Indian National Congress in the phase of transition with the demise of Indira Gandhi, the increase in the nineteen nineties has been explained on two counts, both of which demand empirical evidence, however. The increase may possibly be associated with the ‘second democratic upsurge’, as Yogendra Yadav termed the phenomenon, referring to the process of democratization in the decade of the 1990s, especially the dynamism which the electoral process witnessed in the period, characterised by a hitherto unprecedented upsurge in political participation by the lower classes of the Indian electorate.1 Apart from the upsurge among the backward classes, the increase in women voters may as well be attributed to the panchayati raj reforms which boosted participation among women.  While the increase may in all probability have been associated with the democratic upsurge and churning which the panchayat elections brought in their wake, the relationship cannot be conclusively established unless the caste-gender data for the period are examined.  Moreover, the two may not be seen as exclusive and the political upsurge among the backward classes may be seen as simultaneous and intertwined. The turnout of women voters as a proportion of total voters by States in the Lok Sabha elections for 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 shows that in certain states like Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, there was a jump in the proportion of women among total voters from pervious election years (Deshpande 2004). In the case of Bihar the numbers leapt from 39.8 percent in 1996 to 47 percent in 1998. In Gujarat, the increase was incremental, increasing from 40.1 percent in 1996 to 45.2 percent in 1998, climbing yet again to 48.4 percent in 1999. In Madhya Pradesh the proportion of women voters increased from 42 percent in 1996 to 48.1 percent in 1998 and stabilised thereon. Like Gujarat, in Rajasthan the number increased incrementally, from 40 percent in 1996 to 43.4 percent in 1998, to 47.3 percent in 1999 and 47.7 percent in 2004 (Ibid). 

Political participation and Empowerment: Critical Issues

Since the 1990s, empowerment has become a significant component of thinking about ways of creating enabling conditions for disadvantaged groups, especially for the initiation and implementation of policies pertaining to their development and welfare. A complex notion defying any single interpretation, empowerment has come to be seen as an all-encompassing process, responsive to and designed to dismantle structures of disadvantage in all domains of people’s lives - economic, social and political. Apart from policies and programmes designed to ‘empower’ women socially and economically, perhaps the most discussed, familiar and debated strategy/means of empowerment has been the process of bringing women into formal positions of power.

Depending upon the particular ideological perspective or political framework within which it is placed empowerment conveys a range of contending meanings and associated political practices. There are perhaps two sources to which contemporary understandings and practices of empowerment may be traced. The first may broadly be termed the governance and development discourse, and the second, the grassroots and to an extent the social movement discourse. The governance and development discourse has largely been associated with the managerial and regulatory regime of governance articulated in the context of liberalisation, and the exercise of political authority in a way which makes for ‘sound development management’ and success for the ‘market economy’. The second source may be seen as manifesting a continuation of a strand of participatory democracy, which places faith in people’s presence and active involvement in decision making, especially in matters which pertain to their immediate lifeworlds.

It may be noted that the development of a voice, partnership between state and citizens, the invigoration of the domain of civil society for the purpose of facilitating such a partnership, and the subsequent forging of a state-civil society-market partnership, were central to empowerment in the governance discourse. On the other hand, empowerment also holds out a promise for social change. The liberatory promise of empowerment has been traced by John Harriss to the works of radical educationist Paulo Freire, for whom a process of ‘conscientisation’ was required to build a transformed and liberated society in which people were free from all forms of oppression. Conscientisation referred to a new level of consciousness that emerged from awareness of oppression, identification of contradictions in experience through dialogue, and becoming a self-determining person, i.e., part of the process of changing the world.  It is through such a process of transformation of individual selves – their empowerment or liberation from ‘disempowerment’ – that society could be transformed (Harriss 2007: 2717).

It is interesting how empowerment has found resonance among feminist theorists and the women’s movement, so that the language of women’s struggle has also become interspersed in parts with ‘empowerment’, in the place of ‘liberation’. The conception of empowerment within these articulations focuses on social change through a combination of collective and individual self-assertion, to challenge the existing configurations of power.  Significantly, these articulations, by invoking collective self-determination to unsettle and transform existing forms/structures of power, give a centrality of politics. It may be noted that this centrality of politics – indicating processes of transformative socio-economic change - was occluded in the language of ‘capacity building’ in the governance discourse, which talked about ‘enabling making choices’, without reference to the constraints on choice brought about by class, gender and political hierarchies. Significantly, the empowerment of women as it was woven into the governance-development discourse in India, envisaged institutional reform through the incorporation of an ‘empowerment component’. More often than not, the empowerment’ component focussed on measures which involved participation by women/the poor, more in terms of capacity building prescribed by the World Bank, rather than the conscientisation process envisaged by the liberation framework.  It may be noted that government schemes covering different aspects of ‘disempowerment’ of women, aim at generating self-employment, especially of women belonging to ‘below the poverty line’ families, through organising them into self-help groups (SHGs), ‘for delivery of services like credit and skill training and cash and infrastructure support for self-employment’, and providing them the skills and training to manage micro-credits. In such schemes ‘women are encouraged in the practice of thrift and credit which enables them to become self-reliant’. Apart from generation of income and collective management of financial resources, women’s active roles in community management of essential resources like drinking water, has also been envisaged and women have become members of village level committees set up for the purpose.

A Calling Back to Politics: From Citizen Consorts to Citizens

Critics point out that much of the empowerment discourse and strategies take place within a domain of civil society which is depoliticised and passive. Much of the governance-development ‘work’, i.e., pressing claims on behalf of groups, framing and articulating strategies and implementing them, is being done by ‘experts’ in NGOs. In the context of liberalisation of the economy and the abdication of ‘social’ responsibilities by the state to NGOs, there has been a growth of networks for campaigns on specific issues facilitated by funding agencies through NGOs with specialised, narrowly defined agenda. Women’s groups and feminists have been critical of the manner in which NGO facilitated activism has claimed the political space and has led to a filtering out of gender issues from the public domain into a depoliticised and domesticated domain of capacity building, poverty eradication and welfare.

While there is an influential strand which feels that such poverty eradication programmes with an accent on empowerment, participation and leadership of women could make a qualitative difference, there are others who find such measures inadequate. One such writing suggests that these measures have to be examined to see the extent to which they have contributed to advancing the goal of gender equity, and also in reversing the unfavourable terms of power in which women take decisions in life.  A critical look at the micro-credit and SHG framework of women’s empowerment, for example, has shown that while emphasising ‘financial self-sustainability’, these measures do not aim at ‘rocking the boat of the patriarchal family’. Indeed much of the justification for SHGs rests on the well-being of the family, which in turn is seen as leading to greater empowerment in the public. Moreover, such collective action by women is often pitted against mobilisation around feminist issues. Women’s SHGs thus become more of an ‘artificial’ civil society created by the state, with no political public presence, as active participants in public debate on gender issues (J. Devika and Binitha Thampi 2007).

The women’s movement’s critique of the development process has focused on the idea of democratisation through empowerment by giving centrality to politics. Referring to the process as it was expected to unfold at the grass-roots, empowerment was construed as a range of activities from individual self-assertion to collective resistance, a process aimed at changing the nature and direction of systemic forces which marginalise women and other disadvantaged sections in a given context (Sharma 1991-2: 21). In this understanding of empowerment there is continuity with Freire’s framework which places an emphasis on awareness of oppression brought about by systemic forces. Empowerment is seen as an encompassing process which traverses the social, economic and political domains of people’s lives, and aims at a restructuring of power relations.  The goal is the end of oppression and subjugation of marginalised groups, or liberation from disempowerment. While the emphasis is on transformation of the ways in which power is organised in society and gets reflected in the state, there is no explicit reference to achieving/capturing formal power in political institutions.  However, in another definition of empowerment by Bystydziensky (1992: 3), a direct reference to politics and its diverse manifestation is made, and empowerment is seen as a process by which oppressed people gain some control over their lives by taking part with others in development of activities and structures that allow people increased involvement in matters which affect them directly. In its course, people become enabled to govern themselves effectively. This process involves the use of power, but not ‘power over’ others or power as dominance; rather power is seen as ‘power to’ or power as competence which is generated and shared by the disenfranchised as they begin to shape the content and structure of their daily existence and to participate in a movement of social change. Evelin Hust (2004: 47-48), however, disputes that any transformation of society can take place without the marginalised seeking claim to the seats of ‘formal power’. 

Thus a calling back to politics within the empowerment framework would involve an interrogation of the multiple ways in which women are disadvantaged and the violent ways in which their disadvantage is sustained; it also involves unravelling what women do in the private sphere, making their work visible and valued. The thrust on public institutions and equal participation glosses over the alternative ways in which democracy, resistance and participation are envisaged within the context of the family or even in the ways in which communities manage their natural environment and its resources for their livelihood or the preservation of their lifeworld. Empowerment then would be indicating of a different conception of politics, confined not only to institutionalised formal forms, but also recognition of everyday experiences of oppressive conditions, the power relations that inform these conditions and conscious attempts to dismantle them at all levels.  It is only in such a framework of politics that women would roll back the passivity imparted to them as ‘citizen-consorts’ and cross over to becoming citizens in their own right.


Bystydziensky, J. (ed.) Women Transforming Politics: Worldwide Strategies for Empowerment, Bloomington, Indian University Press, 1992.

Dahlerup, Drude, ‘Women in Political Decisionmaking: From Critical Mass to Critical Acts in Scandinavia’, in Inger Skjelsbaek and Dan Smith eds., Gender, Peace and Conflict,  London, Sage Publications, 2001.

Deshpande, Rajeshwari, ‘How Gendered was Women’s Participation in Election 2004’, Economic and Political Weekly, December 18, 2004.

Devika J and Binitha V. Thampi, ‘Between ‘Empowerment’ and ‘Liberation’?: The Kudumbashree Initiative in Kerala’, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Vol14, No.1, 2007.

Harriss, John, ‘Antinomies of Empowerment: Observations on Civil Society, Politics and Urban Governance in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, 30 June, 2007.

Hoffman, John, Citizenship Beyond the State, London, Sage, 2004

Hust, Eveline, Women’s Political Representation and Empowerment in India: A Million Indiras Now?, Delhi, Manohar, 2004.

Kumar, Sanjay, ‘Muslim Women in India: Opinions, Attitudes and Participation in Politics’ (unpublished paper)

Phillips, Anne, 1998. Feminism and Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998.

Sharma, Kumud, ‘Grassroots Organisations and Women’s Empowerment: Some Issues in the Contemporary Debate’, Samya Shakti, Vol.6, CWDS, New Delhi, 1991-2.

Yadav, Yogendra, ‘Electoral politics in the time of change: India’s third electoral system, 1989-99’. Economic and Political Weekly. 21-28 August, 1999, pp. 2393-9.

Yadav, Yogendra, ‘Reconfiguration in Indian Politics: State Assembly Elections 1993-1995’, in Partha Chatterjee ed., State and Politics in India. Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004.  


1.  The second democratic upsurge, the first being the phase of the sixties, is the term given by Yogendra Yadav to refer to the ‘new phase of democratic politics’ in India in the 1990s, particularly in the state assembly elections during the period 1993-95, characterised by a hitherto unprecedented upsurge in political participation, particularly by the lower classes of the Indian electorate.  An average of more than 64 per cent in these elections indicated a decisive break in this period with the previous period of Assembly elections, and a sizeable 9 percent increase over the Lok Sabha elections (Yadav 1999 and 2004).  

Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

                                               Astha Bharati