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Exposing India’s Political System

September 2020 | 228 pages | SAGE Select
Political parties are more than just an idea or a representation. They are full-fledged organizations of committed grassroot-level workers helping to build the party brick by brick. Many factors come into play in the rise and survival of a political party. In this book, various leaders and party workers from across party lines bring you insight stories about their associations with political parties, their role in electioneering and fundraising, their emotional investment and its toll on their personal and professional lives. Realpolitik: Exposing India’s Political System delves into the structure and hierarchy of political parties, political godfathers and dynasty politics. It examines the career roadmap of political workers, appeasement of marginalized groups for vote bank politics, tackling dissent, the play of power and money, and the setbacks when tall leaders desert the party.

A deeply fascinating read for people interested in the Indian political system and a ‘manual’ for those interested in a career in Indian politics.

PART I Measure of a Political Party
Minions behind a Political Effigy
Political Loyalty
Ideological Cloning
PART II Political Career Roadmap
The Life of a Political Worker
Political Godfathers and Dynasty Politics
The Money Rota
PART III The Political Game of the Marginalized
Vote Bank Tokenism
Women in Politics: Dodging Patriarchy
PART IV Oiling the Nuts and Bolts
Defections and Desertions
Tickets and Appointments
Political Leaderships

‘Mamta Chitnis Sen has captured the essence of what politics should be in talking about the functioning of grassroots politics. This has been done by examining the experiences and methods of politicians whose only durbar was the people. The analysis has been expertly woven together to create a work that is an essential reading for those interested in the roots of democracy in India.’

M. D. Nalapat,
UNESCO Peace Chair, Manipal Academy of Higher Education

‘Mamta Chitnis Sen has boldly tackled the difficult subject of probing the motivation for any Indian to join the current-day Indian politics. What has happened to that pre-1947 confluence of ideologically inspired, freedom-seeking and educated individuals who are seldom seen now in any political party? Why has politics been converted into a power-seeking, sectarian and profit-based avocation? The author highlights the reasons for this deterioration through the voices of grassroots workers from different political parties. Most of them spoke to her frankly, though one could discern attempts by some to shroud reality while facing the tape recorder. Some defended dynastic politics on public acceptability. Almost all of them spoke of difficulties in managing their professions while being in politics, which demanded full-time attention.’

Vappala Balachandran,
Columnist and Author

‘To be a successful political worker in any of India’s several frontline parties is definitely a high order. It’s like playing cricket in your ‘gali’ and aspiring to be the captain of the Indian team in a World Cup or a test series abroad! You have to work hard, very hard, and you can still be kept out of the playing XI. The ladder to the top is too steep.

Do the parties genuinely care for the unsung heroes working on the field? Does a party support the young dedicated workers who have no solid link with an established leader? Do youths have a future in political parties? Is there a good political training centre? How dirty is the political structure of our parties that claim to shoulder the responsibility of running a state or a country? Is there a career in politics? This book, to some extent, has tried to find answers to these inconvenient questions, and more. 

Realpolitik attempts to expose the functioning of the parties from within. Since the author had had a stint at politics—even if at a junior level—she knows how the parties operate and what the future is for a young aspirant. This is a must-read for all the political greenhorns, as it shows them the trenches in the dark alleys much before they start to grope in and get badly bruised!’

Abhilash Khandekar,
Veteran Journalist and Political Analyst

‘A refreshing take on the inside world of politics, the book brings forth the actual workings of both the political parties and the people involved in at all levels. It is a must-read for those interested in pursuing a career in one of the most complicated fields in the world.’

Kripashankar Singh,
Ex-State Home Minister, Maharashtra, and Ex-President, Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC)

‘Mamta Chitnis Sen has spread her journalistic net to haul in a wide spectrum of political parties and personalities. It is an easy, well-written, well-researched guide through the maze of our contemporary polity.’

Mani Shankar Aiyar,
Ex-Union Minister, Panchayati Raj and Development of North Eastern Region, Youth Affairs & Sports

‘Mamta Chitnis Sen has attempted to decipher the complex world of politics lived and  experienced by grassroots workers and their leaders. The book provides deep insights not only into the intricate workings of different political parties but also into the dynamics, importance and differing reasons for seeking power and the methods that one is forced to seek to achieve them. It is a must-read.’

Ashok Dhawale,
Central Committee Member, Communist Party of India (Marxist), National President, All India Kisan Sabha

‘Calculating the many reasons behind what makes Indian politics tick, Mamta Chitnis Sen has courageously ventured into navigating its tricky waters by bringing forth the reality and hard work that goes in not only running political parties in the country but also managing the many people associated with it. The book is surely an eye-opener and a guide for political first-timers.’

Sayyid Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal,
President, Indian Union Muslim League

“The book is a must read for those wishing to venture into politics… (It) has made a good attempt to expose the Indian political system to its readers.” 

The Daily Guardian, 9 October 2020

“(The book) attempts to bring out the keystones of Indian political party system. It further aims to dissect the working machinery of a party with interviews of party workers from key political parties while documenting their journey.” 

The New Indian Express, 27 September 2020

“Realpolitik is definitely a must read for anyone who wants a comprehensive take on the Indian politics… a much-needed kaleidoscopic view of politics.”

Feminism in India, 27 November 2020

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ISBN: 9789353885441