Accepted Paper:

Money politics and violence  


Tazeen Murshid (Global Development Research Cooperation)

Paper short abstract:

The failure of the state to mediate the competing interests of different demand groups fairly creates a vacuum wherein anarchic tendencies grow, giving rise to partisan politics, corruption and violence, which destroy trust and confidence in inclusive political development.

Paper long abstract:

Political violence is often the result of competition over scarce resources among a population with limited opportunities for advancement on the basis of merit. I have argued elsewhere that political violence in the 1970s and 80s in Bangladesh was the result of competition by political cadres for the control of university campuses and streets as well as to have access to state patronage such as trade licenses and tenders. Further inroad of money into politics gained ground with the increasing political participation of business interests noticeable from the 1990s with the restoration of democracy, although the trend had developed earlier under the military rule of General Ershad. This is reflected in the changing social origins of elected representatives and in the rise of antagonistic communities. A study in 2007 found that certain streets were separated along political lines and a culture of apartheid based on political affiliations divided entire communities, marked by fear, intimidation and corruption. Successive regimes have faced similar problems, which have escalated over time. The rising corruption and the inability of the state to mediate between competing interests created a vacuum within which anarchic tendencies have gained ground. The values of liberalism, secularism and pluralism endorsed by the founding fathers are thus deeply compromised. The state must reject a monolithic partisan approach to governance in order to restore trust and confidence in inclusive development and in the rule of law. Some compromise may be necessary to create such an enabling environment.

Panel P27
Understanding poltical violence in South Asia