Two books that I have found particularly useful are:
- Rethinking State Politics in India by Ashutosh Kumar. This looks at India as a collection of regions. From the book: “This volume adopts a sub-national comparative method for carrying out an in-depth analysis of the politics of identity as well as development in the large, multi-level polity of India by focusing on micro narratives that may otherwise be passed over while viewing the larger picture. The articles focus on regions within states and not the state per se, as the unit of analysis. Interestingly, they employ both intra-state and inter-state regional perspectives in a comparative mode to highlight the nuanced nature of the movements for autonomy.”
- Electoral Politics in Indian States by Shastri, Suri and Yadav. This fills in the gap between the elections and provides richer data. From the book: “Using detailed electoral data from the 2004 elections from across the country, the volume covers various states, including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala from the south; Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, and Rajasthan from the west; Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh in the north; and Jharkhand, West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Manipur in the east. It examines the phenomenon of the ‘third electoral front’, which came into being with the 1989 elections and continues till date. From its origins in a time of political and economic instability and social upheaval, the front has, by this time, given way to a more stable order, even though the era of single party ruled governments has given way to coalition politics. The book highlights the role of state and regional politics at the center, and how the clout of regional parties has increased over the last ten years.
Admittedly, these are heavy reading. But for those like me who came in late to understanding India’s politics, they are a good start and reference.