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Quest for identity: linking ethnicity, electoral politics and violence in Koch-Rajbanshi sovereignty movements of India


Ethnic groups involved in separatist movements have often been engaged in violence, rather than electoral politics, in order to fulfil their demands. The present paper analyses the dynamics of the sovereignty movements of the Koch-Rajbanshi community of north-eastern India, an indigenous group that has used active and suppressed violence for accomplishing their demands along with electoral contests. Nuanced analyses of literature, electoral information, schedule-based surveys and personal interviews of Koch-Rajbanshi respondents were used for this purpose. Results indicated that most elected Koch-Rajbanshi representatives belonged to mainstream political parties and failed to bring about practical solutions for the sovereignty issue. The pro-sovereignty outfits were unable to gain electoral success and further hindered the movement. Fear of backlash from the ruling party also stopped many Koch-Rajbanshi commons from being involved in the electoral process. Accordingly, adequate electoral representation of Koch-Rajbanshi political groups was identified as the only democratic solution to this escalating conflict.

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Issue: Volume 13, Issue 1, 2019