Electoral mobilisation on caste has always been an attractive proposition in Indian polity. But for how long will caste remain the glue? Subaltern caste assertions, deepening of social democracy and increased political awareness of the marginalised and the fact that there are more than 5000 castes & sub castes have made politics interesting.
It is indeed an arduous task for any aspiring politician to navigate the labyrinthine maze of caste permutations and combinations to succeed electorally. Caste alliances are never permanent, they depend more on day to day engagements among various social communities and not political rhetoric as parties think.
There are wheels within wheels in the caste conundrum, caste blocks like OBC will break down to caste like Yadav and things will not stop at that as there are sub castes among the Yadav community. Where do you put a full stop? How are you going to distribute 500 jobs among 5000 castes?
The harsh reality is that caste can never be a source for integration for caste politics, read social justice, always operates through creation of caste cleavages. Cleavages can be inter caste or intra caste, and there is simply no scope for reconciliation and social revolution. As long as there are castes… there will be outcasts. By its very character, caste is hierarchy seeking and it does not operate horizontally I. e. socio political participation of various social communities on an equal footing.
I am keeping my fingers crossed over what shape the widely debated Bahujan movement that aims to represent a wide alliance of dalits backwards tribal and minorities takes but one thing is crystal clear. There is not going to be any social democratization. Firstly I doubt whether the movement will be a starter and secondly, even if it starts it will be reverse caste discrimination. Manu will be there but the caste pyramid will get a bit inverted.
The Bahujan movement will kill the exclusivity of dalit movement. Gradually it will end the privileges that dalits enjoyed by virtue of being a specific class. The dalit cultural agenda will be the biggest casualty. There will always be the fear of dalit movement being eaten up the broader Bahujan movement. The inferior status of dalits were due to their rootlessness and historical deprivation from land but the backwards were always Landed. Even today OBCs have land. How will landless dalits get land from them? Internal contradictions galore among various bahujan communities.
We are going to see interesting as well as frightening times.