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Discuss the Role of Caste in Indian State Politics. Explain Briefly.

Discuss the Role of Caste in Indian State Politics. Explain Briefly.


1 Answer

Michael Brecher stated that though at the all India level the role of the caste may be marginal, at the state level it plays a major role. Though no state of the Indian Union has been immune from the impact of the caste politics, it has been more powerful in states like Bihar, Kerala, Madras (Tamil Nadu), U:R, Haryana Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra etc. for a fuller understanding of the impact of caste on state politics, we may study the role of caste in some states of India.

Caste in Bihar politics:

In Bihar previously there have been four main castes Rajputs, Brahmins, Kayasthas and Adivasis (the backward tribal people). While the Rajputs have lent their support to the Janta Party of Raja Kamakhya Narain Singh of Ramgarh, the Adivasis of the backward tribal people have organized themselves into a political party known as Jharkhand Party. The Jharkhand Party has so far been successful in capturing most of the seats reserved for the tribal and backward sections of the society. The demand of this party for a separate state of Jharkhand has also been based on caste-considerations and now Jharkhand is a separate state. As regards the Kayasthas and Brahmin an internal struggle between the two for attainment of power both in the legislature and the ministry has been a persistent feature.

But now due to numerically strength Yadavas, Kunnis and Paswans (scheduled caste) in alliance with Muslims dominate Bihar politics, Laln Prasad Yadav ruled Bihar with the support of Muslim. Ram Vilas Paswan won Muslim support by slogan of Muslim Chief Minister, so Bihar came under Governor’s rule, but kurmies won support of upper caste and captured power in Bihar.

Caste in Kerala:

In Kerala also the caste considerations have played an important role in state politics. Prof. Harisons stated, “The success of the Kerala Communist Party as the first regional Communist Party in India to capture control of a state government can be explained above all to its ability to manipulate politically strategic caste lobbies within linguistic boundaries as in Andhra.” The Kerala Communists were able to transform economic despair into a legislative majority because their footing on regional caste grounds, notably among the numerous Ezhavas.

Caste in Andhra:

In the politics of Andhra state, caste has played very dominant role. The politics of Andhra has been nothing but a sort of cock-fighting between the two castes Kammas and Reddys. While the Kammas first joined T.D.P., Reddys joined the Congress Party. The support of the Kaunas to the Communists during the first general elections was chiefly responsible for the good performance of the Communist Party. This so much alarmed the Congress leaders that on the eve of the second general election of 1957 the Congress Party and its leader Shri S.K. Patil to make efforts to win the support of the Kammas. Prof. N.G. Ranga, a Kamma leader to his side and secured the support of the Kammas for the Congress during the second general election. While selecting the candidates the Congress attached great importance to the caste of the candidates to ensure that the communists were not able to take advantage of the caste factor during the election.

It can be said that caste occupies most conspicuous place in the politics of Andhra State. Prof. Harrison “As an example of Hindu caste in political motion, the post war decade in Andhra merits special attention.” Kammas i.e. Naidu formed Telgu Desham. Party (T.D.P.) under N.T. Rama Rao, who won elections. After him his son in-law Chandra Babu Naidu became leader of T.D.P. and ruled Andhra.

Another feature of the caste in Andhra politics is the blending with the regional politics. The Telangana agitation is mainly the outcome of this politics. In this issue the people of a particular caste living predominantly in-a particular region have given a castle cum regional complexion to the issue. Prof Srinivas says that “the regional claims in Andhra are often only a disguise for caste claims”, but demand of Telengana has popular support.

Caste in Maharashtra:

In Maharashtra also there are three castes Marathas, Brahmins and Mahars (Dalits) which have played an important role in the politics of the state. Although the Brahmins constitute the smallest percentage of the population of the state, they have dominated the politics of the state and occupied all important positions. They gained this advantage because of his westernized education and advancement and popular leaders like Tilak, Gokhale, Ranade and. Savarkar etc. The Marathas, who only constitutes 25 per cent of the total population have also dominated in the areas of Kolhapur and Satara etc. as these were ruled by the Marathas, who constitute the largest fraction of the population, have not been able to capture the power themselves but they have played a role of great significance in the state politics. The Congress has been successful in winning them over to its side and with their support consolidate its hold over the state.


The caste also plays an important role in the politics of other states of India, although its role in the various states differs and is comparatively less significant than its role in the state of Bihar, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra. etc. In Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, particularly the caste considerations have been as strong as in the state discussed above. In these states the mutual rivalry of the various castes has determined all the appointments, elections and distribution of ministerial offices. However, this should not give the impression that in other states the castes has ceased to be a significant factor. In other states also caste play an important, though a subdued role in the politics of caste. In U.P. Yadavas in alliance with Muslims, in Haryana his, in Rajasthan his in alliance with Rajputs etc. In Madhya Pradesh Lodhies and Kshatriyas etc. dominate. In Orissa Patnaik dominate politics along with Mishra and Mahapatras,

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August 13, 2019