Sociology Index


Deep-rooted caste divisions still play a decisive role in electoral politics in India. It is not the LARGEST DEMOCRACY? IT IS CASTOCRACY. India is a web of sub-castes, each competing against the other for the limited political space dominated by the privileged in the hierarchy. Backward Classes have now branched into Extremely Backward Classes or Most Backward Classes. A section of Dalits identify themselves as Mahadalits in UP and Bihar. Even Muslim politics in the state of Bihar saw division along the lines of Ashraf and Pasmanda castes. Caste has remained an integral part of Karnataka politics from the early 19th century due to the impact of Leslie Miller report, and census reports till 1931 that listed populations along caste lines, says political analyst Muzaffar Assadi.

"Sub-castes provide more potent leadership of smaller groups and bargaining power. Helping in the evolution of chhuthbhaiya netas or small-time leaders, capable of providing 500 to 5,000 votes, which is crucial. These leaders switch sides every five years or so. The outcome of the Uttar Pradesh polls, particularly in eastern UP, may be a result of a political group that is able to win over or retain sub-caste support," says Rasheed Kidwai, a political analyst.

“Cast your vote or vote for your caste? In the uncertain world of politics in Uttar Pradesh, caste provides a comfort zone for an electorate that is tired of experimenting or looking for elusive ‘vikas’. When ideological lines are blurred, caste acts as a catalyst,” says Rasheed Kidwai, a political analyst.