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Student Event

Jeffrey Witsoe, Associate Professor, Union College

Milan Vaishnav, Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Rohit Chandra, PhD Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School

Sharan Mamidipudi, PhD Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School

The upcoming election in Bihar (which will run from late October to early November 2015), is one of the first main political challenges of the incumbent BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is one of the quintessential battles between state and central political parties, and more important is a second round of political face-offs between two notable development-focused leaders: Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi. The outcome of this election will have major implications for both of the candidates’ political parties: Nitish Kumar’s coalition Janata Parivar is currently battling for electoral relevance after their rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP, on the other hand, needs to prove that it can make political inroads into states, expanding on its broad-based support in the last national election.

The panel will elicit opinions from both speakers on a variety of issues: the current reconfiguration of regional political parties, whether this election is an election of survival for regional parties, the relative importance of identity politics vs. growth performance, how political campaigns are organizing around individual images, and some predictions of what they expect from the elections in terms of outcomes.

Cosponsored with the Harvard Kennedy School India Caucus