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Factional Politics in an Indian State

In the transition from a nationalist movement to a political party the Indian National Congress, unlike many dominant parties of newly-independent countries, chose to compete with opposition parties for popular support, to manage rather than suppress internal conflict. An important consequence of this decision was the development of a situation in which factions and coalitions of factions became the basic working units of the Congress party, and their unceasing conflicts a constant threat to its endurance.

Based on interviews with more than two hundred political leaders and other politically informed individuals, the book examined the impact of internal factionalism upon the ability of the Congress to deal effectively with the diverse forces in its environment. Concentrating on the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the book analyses the problems of party organization at the local and district levels, where modern politics and the traditional society met. In the districts, the Congress then had to deal with such forces as Hindu-Muslim tension, conflict and alliance between castes, and the continuing influence of ex-landlords in the countryside. These and other problems, common to much of India were investigated in depth as they occurred in Uttar Pradesh and as they affected the adjustmen of the modern party organization to the traditional order.