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The blue elephant
Scheduled end to OBC Raj - from UP to rest of the country?

Mayawati’s elephantine ride has smothered her opposition. As a result, rivals have complained of chest pains and corporate hospitals have begun filling their coffers by admitting samajwadi politicians! Beyond this political skullduggery, however, Mayawati’s election to the seat of power in UP will have more than
one repurcussion. Her experimentation with Sarvjan, that is, the Schedule Caste (SC) and upper caste alliance has been noted but it is the rising might of SC population in the caste cauldron that needs to be highlighted.

The ushering of democratic polity in India ensured metamorphosis of its social tapestry. The first socio-political movements in independent India were essentially anti-Brahmin, which was led by the backward castes. Starting from southern India, where the Dravidian movement revolutionised the politics of Tamil Nadu, the backward caste movement reached its pinnacle after the acceptance of the Mandal Commission recommendations. The anti–emergency movement led by Jai Prakash Narain spawned a group of socialist leaders that led the backward castes for decades. In the process, however, the backward castes or the sociologically defined intermediate caste usurped the role of forward castes. In the recent past, most of rural violence in areas of the northern states against the Dalits or the prevention of temple entry for the Dalits were allegedly carried out by the backward castes.

Mayawati’s election then reflects a cataclysmic social change. The SC population has graduated from being a junior partner to a full fledged authoritative commander. Social engineering, ironically, has now made the most dominant social group a junior partner. Importantly, the coalition that made Mayawati shift from Bahujan to Sarvjan is pitched against the all powerful intermediate castes.

Mayawati’s election and thus BSP’s ascendance could signal the end of the hegemony of the intermediate castes. Uprooting caste based discrimination might be distant, but democracy in India has definitely provided a mean to empower the weakest.

Kumar Anuj

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