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As the chaiwala taunt is back in the Gujarat election campaign, ThePrint asks the question –

Has Congress stepped on its own toes for a second time with the chaiwala meme?

‘Chaiwala’ is about nothing but business, because Narendra Modi comes from the same business background. Narendra Modi did not come from a cattle-rearing background or from tilling the land, making pots, fishing, or doing any productive work.

For us (Dalits and OBCs), Narendra Modi is not the same OBC as the shudra OBC. We don’t treat him as part of ‘us’. He is part of the larger bania business community. Whether it is selling chai, or kirana, or some other business, this work does not have any great dignity of labour. That is the reason why in North India and thereabouts, many banias got registered as OBCs — like in Gujarat, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh.


Here are other sharp perspectives on chaiwala jibe against Narendra Modi:

Sanjay Nirupam, Congress Spokesperson, Mumbai Congress President
Sambit Patra, spokesperson, BJP
Kancha Ilaiah, writer and Dalit rights activist
Kumar Ketkar, journalist


Many of these people are basically against reservations because they themselves come from business backgrounds. We don’t give much respect or much credibility to them. Chai-selling is good, it is important work by itself, but they cannot claim it is fundamental work.

Also, these cartoons on Facebook — they are not relatively big critics, no? Now, if somebody senior said this, it would be a different issue (like Mani Shankar Aiyar did earlier, to which I responded with a reprimand). Some young fellow putting it on Facebook — why should it become a big issue?

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3 Comments Share Your Views

3 COMMENTS

  1. See narendra modi wikipedia Description he is Teli ok. Teli is OBC weather he is business or not. See don’t post like this faltu facts.

    Every muslim and brahman rajput bhumihar forward cast not want a Backward class pm

    Like lalu he had not done much bad but he is behind bar just because forward caste not like him

  2. Kancha Illiah is exposing his CASTEIST mentality. He says being a vaishya is has no “dignity” – same thing Brahmins said against Shudrass and Dalits for Thounsands of years. If selling Chai has no dignity- does carrying human waste and skinning animals for leather carry “dignity” and make it “fundamental work” ? Kancha Illiah is willing to extol them as “productive work” – but oil used for cooking and which India today imports from Malaysia for Billions of dollars and used in every Indian home from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is not “dignified” ?

    Who is Kancha Illiah to give our “certificates” on “dignified work” ? Even a woman selling her body in some dark back alley has more dignity in her than Kancha Illiah’s BIGOTED and BIASED garbage above.

    And FYI – Narendra Modi’s caste were “oil presser” caste where they used to do “fundamental work” of OBC community of extracting oil from oil seeds and commonly are known as Teli caste.

    This article exposes Kancha Illiah to be a casteist piece of garbage – no different than people he hates and condemns for looking down on Dalits. And despite all his education – Kanch Illiah is exposing his own “mentality” with this cheap remarks.

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