Dishil is currently pursuing his PhD in the School of Politics and International Relations. His research is funded by the Vice-Chancellor Scholarship for Research Excellence and a maintenance scholarship from the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies (IAPS). His PhD thesis focuses on explaining the growth of regional parties in India. He is particularly interested in comparing the party systems of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Prior to starting his PhD at the School of Politics and International Relations, Dishil completed his MSc in Comparative Politics (Democracy stream) from the LSE.
He has also undertaken quantitative methods training at the Inter-University Consortium for Social and Political Research (ICPSR) organized at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
M11153- Introduction to Comparative Politics
M11017-Culture and Values in Changing World
My research focuses on how a party's internal organisation shapes, and are in turn are shaped by, the regional party system in multi-level settings. Multi-level settings presents political parties… read more
My research focuses on how a party's internal organisation shapes, and are in turn are shaped by, the regional party system in multi-level settings. Multi-level settings presents political parties with both opportunities and challenges. It gives them the opportunities to compete and capture significant rewards of office in multiple levels but it also opens up challenges of maintaining party unity, cohesion, and internal autonomy within the party across different levels. This is true for a particular type of political party; the polity-wide party. But, despite the challenges, polity-wide parties have been dominant in many multi-level settings. This is true not only at the national level but is also true at the sub-national level. However, this pattern of polity-wide party dominance at the sub-national level is not uniform. My thesis is an attempt to explain the variations in the dominance of polity-wide parties at the sub-national level in a multi-level setting. It is important to explain the variations because existing literature shows how dominance of polity-wide parties can explain increasing levels of social spending, and democratic accountability on the one hand, and political stability, on the other.
The first part of my dissertation argues that polity-wide parties are able to dominate the sub-national level if their sub-national branches have autonomy. If polity-wide parties centralise authority and power away from their sub-national branches, politicians have more incentives to defect to non-polity-wide parties in order to gain autonomy at the sub-national level. In contrast, if the sub-national branches of polity-wide parties have autonomy at the sub-national level, then polity-wide parties will remain dominant at the sub-national level. This is true even in contexts with high levels of political and economic decentralisation and presence of distinct sub-national identity. In my dissertation, I show that political and economic decentralisation and the presence of distinct sub-national cleavages are necessary, but not sufficient conditions to explain variations in the dominance of polity-wide parties.
If intra-party autonomy is important in explaining the dominance of polity-wide parties at the sub-national level, then why do polity-wide parties have different levels of intra-party autonomy? In the second part of the dissertation, I argue that the key explanation behind different levels of intra-party autonomy at the sub-national level is political incumbency. Different levels of government creates more opportunities for polity-wide parties to gain access to governmental power at multiple levels. However, this opportunity also opens up power struggle within polity-wide parties where the incumbent branch is able to dictate the terms if they are incumbent at their level when the other branch of the party is not. I evaluate the importance of this explanation vis-à-vis the ones highlighted in the comparative politics literature. Existing literature has focused on federalism, nature of national and regional party competition, timing of regional elections, and internal party features in explaining the differing levels of intra-party autonomy, and while these explanations are of particular importance in understanding cross-national variations, I evaluate their merit at the sub-national level within a country.
Empirically, this dissertation uses evidence from India, the world's largest democracy. Using a nested research design it combines statistical analysis of all the major Indian states with a sub-national comparative study of two Indian states, namely Gujarat and Maharashtra. Building on previous work on the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), I study the dynamics of these two polity-wide parties in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Both the states are selected based on the Most Similar Systems Design, where the findings are based on extensive field research in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Mumbai and New Delhi, India.