Sunday, February 5, 2023
HomeOpinionThe golden era of caste politics is still ahead of us

The golden era of caste politics is still ahead of us

Big data will revolutionise Mandal politics, making caste politics realise its true potential in the decades to come.

Text Size:

With his stupendous re-election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has transcended caste, we are told. Caste-based regional parties have again lost to great development, never mind that the elections happened at a time of economic slowdown and record unemployment.

Victors get to write history. And so, Modi declared on 23 May 2019, “Only two castes will remain in this country. And, the country is going to be focused on only these two castes. The first caste in India is the poor. And, the second caste is people who contribute towards alleviation of poverty.”

One is reminded of this claim as the BJP celebrates the court upholding reservation for the Marathas in Maharashtra, brought in by the Devendra Fadnavis government. The BJP’s social army trended #DevendraRealMaratha on Twitter.

Also read: 50% cap breached with Maratha reservation: Will this reignite quota politics across India?

If India has only two castes now — the poor and those who help alleviate poverty — why is Yogi Adityanath government changing the status of some caste communities from OBCs to SCs? Tinkering with caste category status to make some communities get more reservation benefits is standard caste politics. We thought the BJP wasn’t doing caste politics. Before the 2019 elections, BJP president had promised to build a statue for the icon of the Nishad community. The community has also been given the SC status by the Yogi government.

So, did the BJP win Nishad votes due to caste-neutral development or because it promised them a statue and an SC status?

In the run-up to the 2019 elections, the BJP arranged caste gatherings of small OBC communities in Lucknow. According to journalists in Lucknow, who attended some of these, there were at least 100 such gatherings to reach out to the smallest of communities. Each sammelan was addressed by Keshav Prasad Maurya, the party’s OBC face and the deputy chief minister, who told them, “Each one of you should think you are deputy CM”.

The key to the BJP’s wooing of caste communities is using the sentiment of caste pride — your caste has a great history, you had amazing icons, we’ll build a statue for one, and so on.

And, we’re told the BJP has transcended caste?

The BJP, and the wider Hindutva parivar, is very good at being diabolical with language. Do black and claim white, polarise against Muslims and claim Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, and so on.

Golden era

The truth about caste politics is that its golden era hasn’t even arrived yet, and the BJP will take us there.

A news development of great importance has gone unremarked in the media. The Modi government has decided that the 2021 Census will count OBCs as well, just like the Census counts SCs, STs and religious minorities. This means we will finally have very rich data on the population and economic conditions of OBCs, from the national to the village level. This data will, without doubt, revolutionise caste politics in India.

Also read: From Congress to BJP, everybody is afraid of OBC data

If the BJP has transcended caste, why is it counting OBCs?

The Manmohan Singh government decided not to count OBCs in the Census but in a separate Socio-Economic and Caste Census, or SECC. The survey asked people their caste, and got all kinds of caste names, which have apparently been difficult to reconcile. This is why, the government claims, the detailed OBC data on the basis of the SECC was never released.

The 2021 Census will give people caste name options and they will choose. The last time the Census counted OBCs was in 1951 but the data wasn’t made public.

Both the SECC data and the 1951 Census OBC data are classified government records. In this leaky country, one wonders how secret they are and if they haven’t reached the political parties already?

The last time the Census publicly counted and published the OBC data was in 1931. So, the 2021 Census will reveal the status of OBCs after 90 years. To begin with, we’ll have a big, official number revealing the percentage of the OBCs. The only caste group not to be counted will be the upper castes, thus revealing their percentage by deduction. It will, therefore, be clear how small India’s upper caste elite is.

The Modi government is wisely using technology for the 2021 Census, and promises to publish all data in just three years — that is, by 2024, the year of the next Lok Sabha election.

Also read: Census 2021 must ask every Indian their caste, not just OBCs

Five years from now, we should have publicly available data on the OBCs, a first in 90 years. Data crunchers are going to have a field day. Micro-targeting of communities, finding intersections of caste, class, occupation and religion are going to become very exciting. When Mandal meets big data, we’ll have a whole new world of caste politics. The game hasn’t even begun. For doing this alone, Modi could become the biggest face of caste politics in India. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Views are personal

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Either Shivam Vij is confused or he is deliberately trying to confuse people about cast politics.

    First of all he needs to define what he means by the term “cast politics”. He comes out as a typical Brahmin hater or upper cast hater rather than what he is trying to preach.

    Is it “cast politics” if you convince few casts that they have been wasting their vote by supporting cast based parties and their true development is possible only if they support a party which is accused of being a party of upper casts? To me it’s the biggest proof of breaking “cast based” politics.

    Now talk about reservations that Shivam has quoted repeatedly to support the argument that BJP has indulged in “cast politics”.

    His argument seems like coming from a novice ideologue or manipulation of facts. Does eliminating reservation all together make a proof of elimination of “cast politics”? Wouldn’t the same Shivam-likes scream the decision an anti lower-caste action? So, is the status quo a proof of “no cast politics”? If so, then how do you fix the perceived injustice which the ever expanding reservation borders are making the casts lying at the border of this expanding envelope marginalized?

    The fact is that lower casts switched their votes to BJP because they believe that their lot will improve with the party which is generally branded as the party of upper casts. That’s the proof you’ll ever need to conclude that fast based politics is going through its end game.

    People like Shivam write from a preset narrative of their dislike of BJP and Modi. There is a sentence in his article which betrays his true feelings. Rest is just a vichyssoise of words.

    Vijay Rajvaidya
    India Currents, Inc.

  2. Mr Shivam Vij is there any mechanism to know how many SC, ST and OBC employees work in “The Print”.

  3. The Great Constitution is written to achieve annihilation of caste by limitlessly increasing reservations. What it has resulted in is shrinking numbers for General Public aka the Forward Castes. We as a country are a bundle of contradictions. Our confusion about things is visible through and through. The only hope is the movement towards a free economy based on competition and government by any party not choking the survival of those who are willing to stick their necks out. Thus so long as there is no going back to “state control of production ie Socialist structure, survival would be possible with the most fundamental contradiction of reservations and equality being spoken in the same breath.

  4. Modi and RSS have deeply polarised the Indian society on the basis of caste identity. If Maratha gets reservation on caste base they should also be treated as untouchables. Brahmins of India treat SC/STs badly because they get reservation on caste based. Dalits are not allowed to enter Hindu temples because of Reservation based on caste. Will Brahmins of India treat badly Marathas, OBCs, Jats as they treat Dalits. Will all these economically rich castes suffer social segregation and inhuman treatments at the hands of Brahmins ? Will their children also suffer caste discrimination in the educational institutions at the hands of Brahmins ? Will girls from these elite communities be beaten or paraded naked like Dalit girls in case of inter-caste marriages. If brahmins of India do not do all wrong things with the members of these socially and economically castes as they have been doing with Dalits for the last 5000 years. It means there is something wrong the minds of Brahmins of India.

  5. Intercaste marriages are surging. Caste-based netas will start fading into oblivion by 2024

  6. Caste based census would be a blunder and would have far reaching consequences .Strange it is !We all were expecting development based polity after the landslide victory in general election. In this technological era, India can’t remain aloof from the global scenario. On the verge of quantum era, these policies are bound to fail.

  7. Do whatever you want to do. Just don’t touch our 50% unreserved portion. We are already bleeding, don’t poison us .

    • One of the enduring images of V P Singh’s brief tenure as PM was of a student setting himself ablaze. The unreserved quota in some states, where merit alone counts, could fall to one fourth. Unfair.

  8. On a lighter note, when Vikas finally turns up, the first question he should be asked is : What is your surname – Kulkarni, Patil, Bhujbal or Kamble ? We can no longer recognise an Indian without neatly slotting him into an identity cage.

Comments are closed.