Politiker und Prinz. Ein Raja und seine Rhetorik im indischen Wahlkampf von 2004

  • Uwe Skoda (Author)

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The article highlights the role and situation of a raja, a king or “prince” in the colonial jargon, during the election campaign to the Legislative Assembly of Orissa as well as to the Lok Sabha in 2004. Even after the formal abolition of royal rule in the wake of India's independence, royal families remained active in politics. Looking at this involvement the analysis, based on detailed ethnography, stresses the cultural shaping of democracy and political practice in India. Focusing on the campaign rhetoric and the approaches of M. Weber and W. H. Morris-Jones, it demonstrates the transformation of a hereditary ruler into a politician with a relatively exalted status who draws on a “traditional language” of kingship that (re-)connects him with various communities, expresses his own centrality and consciously exploits sentiment as a political resource. At the same time the raja reiterates living a humble life for politics, while opponents are defamed as living off politics. In addition, he also claims - paradoxically - a position above politics, i.e., he does not consider himself a “single-party-man”. Thus, the paper illustrates the process of indigenization of democracy in the “hinterland” of Orissa.