Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


Leadership and authority in Asia (DGA), June 20-21, Berlin (2013)




The 2012 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are a superb example to study the involvement of Ulema in electoral politics. Based on ethnography in Lucknow, the state capital, before and after the elections as well as on a new micro-level dataset, this paper presents two interlocked arguments. Firstly, there is a story of both ethnic coordination and en bloc voting, but it plays out on the constituency level much more than on the aggregate state level, necessitating novel analytical approaches. It also characterizes urban areas more than rural ones, which contradicts widespread assumptions about the shift from identity- to interest-based voting in political science. Secondly, this rural/urban distinction could partly be explained through higher levels of intra-Ulema factionalism and increasingly fragmented religious authority in a landscape transformed by neo-revivalism and an overall minority context. Not only do Ulema lend authority to politicians, they also bolster their religious standing through political clout - a causal inversion that has perhaps not yet received the attention it deserves.