Seminar 1: Elections in eastern India and their regional resonances

The people of Assam and West Bengal have voted to elect members to the Legislative Assembly. While, the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious in recently-concluded Assam Assembly election, in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress (TMC) beat the BJP with a massive margin. The Trinamool Congress managed to won 213 seats out 294 seats and secured 48 per cent of the vote share.

The State Legislative Assembly is the body responsible for social and economic decisions in the Indian states. Under India’s federal constitution, states wield wide-ranging powers over such matters as police and public order; education and health; and agriculture, industry and state public services. Additionally, states are responsible for implementing several decisions taken by India’s national parliament. Control over the Legislative Assembly of a state is thus crucial in the formulation of sub-national policy as well as implementing national policy. Although Union-State relations have been crucial to India’s relations with its neighbouring countries, their role has been relatively neglected in the literature on foreign policy analysis and sub-national politics (Alden and Brummer, 2019; Blarel and van Willingen, 2017: Blarel and van Willingen, 2020).

The electoral results in the two States of Assam and West Bengal are significant for the Indo-Pacific region. The elections have been conducted amidst deteriorating relations between the different religious and ethnic communities who inhabit the two States. Religious polarisation between the two principal communities in the region- the Hindus and the Muslims-has become acute in recent years. Despite the defeat of India’s ruling party in West Bengal, the BJP won 77 seats, managed to secure 38 percent of the total vote share, and became the main opposition party in the West Bengal.

Against this background, University of York (Department of Politics), Atlantic Council (South Asia Center) and Chatham House (Asia-Pacific Programme) invite you to join the webinar titled ‘Elections in eastern India and their regional resonances‘. The webinar is the first of our webinar series titled ‘Politics, Citizenship and Democracy in South Asiawhich commemorates the upcoming 75th anniversary from Britain of the Independence of various South Asian nations.


Registration: Please complete the form below. We will send you the webinar link by Thursday (13/05/2021).

Event Details:


Date: May 14, 2021

Time: 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. (GMT)

Venue: Online. Zoom links to follow


Session 1: 2:00 to 3:00 pm (GMT)

Discussion theme: How are the results of the assembly elections likely to shape relations between the myriad ethnic, linguistic and religious communities of the region?


Aman Wadud – Human Rights Lawyer based in Guwahati & Fulbright-Nehru Fellow (2021-2022).

Harsh Mander – Executive Director, Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi, India.

Kasturi Basu – Independent documentary filmmaker, social activist, researcher based in Kolkata, India.


Indrajit Roy, Senior Lecturer-Global Development Politics, Department of Politics, University of York, UK.


Session 2: 3:30 to 4:30 pm (GMT)

Discussion theme: How are the results of the assembly elections likely to influence relations between India and its immediate neighbourhood and the broader region?


Shoaib Daniyal – Senior Aassistant Editor,

Meghna Guhathakurta – Executive Director of Research Initiatives, Bangladesh.

Ali Riaz – Distinguished Professor of political science at Illinois State University, USA.


Rudabeh Shahid, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council-South Asia Centre. USA.  



Dr. Indrajit Roy, University of York, UK.

Dr. Rudabeh Shahid, Atlantic Council, USA.

Dr. Champa Patel, Chatham House, UK.

Dr. Buddhadeb Halder, University of York, UK.