ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Should Sympathy Matter in Politics?


The desperate desire to capture power in ways that run contrary to the democratic ethos has its own consequences for politics inasmuch as it brings an element of sympathy into the political domain. Sympathy, in turn, gives rise to contradictory forms of competitive political dynamics. On the one hand, sympathy suggests contesting free elections, and on the other, it also suggests a competitive form of elections. Put differently, an appeal of sympathy made either directly or indirectly tends to stand on moral grounds that are mutually exclusive. For example, for most of the political parties and their candidates, it has been a usual practice to make appeals based on sympathy for the purposes of unopposed elections for the seats that, due to the demise of the sitting legislators, fell vacant. Such an appeal is made particularly by the incumbent who had kinship ties with the departed member of the elected houses.

There is another and a wider electoral context in which political players make an appeal of sympathy rather indirectly; it does, however, play a vital role in shaping the electoral consciousness of the people. In such a context, such an appeal acquires its moral significance through the narrative of victimhood. Such a narrative is expected to generate a sympathy wave, as it were, for those who have been tormented by the ruling powers. The social basis of such a sympathy wave is not limited either to an incumbent candidate or to a single constituency. As the recent narrative of victimhood that is being shared by the political group led by Uddhav Thackeray and supported by the leaders from the Maha Vikas Aghadi shows, unlike the incumbent faction, the former has been asking for an early election.

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Updated On : 4th Mar, 2023
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