Caste-based politics. The very phrase makes you want to look for a bucket and be ill in. The more we deny it the more it strides onto centrestage and takes over.
Indians just don’t seem to be given the opportunity to exercise franchise for good governance or the credit for voting for a right candidate. I would even go as far as to say we rob ourselves of this right with such pathetic ease.
Not because he or she is good for the job, but because we invariably marinate it in caste and communal syrup. I am reading about Rita Bahaguna Joshi's departure from Congress to the BJP and it is being seen as a clever ploy to win the Brahmin vote.
We are all party to this conspiracy. Politicians thrive on it. Media propels it with gay abandon and not even the least bit of concern that it perpetuates what it critiques with such indignation. The public takes the bait every single time and fragments like a grenade, allowing the shrapnel to divide and rule with a fervour that even the British could not match.
Seventy years down the road, caste politics thrive and run our lives. Take UP and the 2017 elections. The arithmetic in the break-up of the numbers is all caste-oriented.
Here are several statements on record.
The BJP wants alliances in eastern UP with the Janvadi Party so it can get the MBC castes, including Lonia, Nonia, Gole-Thakur, Lonia-Chauhan and Dhobhi to vote for it. The aim is to target the non-Jatav Dalit vote and the non-Yadav backward class vote.
The BSP wants to capture the Dalit-Brahmin bloc and the Dalit-Muslim alliance.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal has lost its base in the Jat-Muslim enclave after the Muzaffarnagar riots and is now an also-ran unless it links up with the SP to lure the Jat vote.
One can break all this up to an even further sickening level. For example, the BJP is believed to be wooing castes such as Maurya, Murav and Kachhi by naming Keshav Prasad Maurya as its State unit president. Whether Maurya, bless his little heart, is a good administrator or not is not even a factor in the distant horizon.
Who thinks of all this? There must be an affection for it that questions intellect but obtains legitimacy from its popularity. Caste counts.
And when will the priorities change?
The hypocrisy is breathtaking. And it is not just UP. The same nonsense is the icing on the Punjab cake, too. Mayawati attacked the SAD-BJP alliance as anti-Dalit, called Arvind Kejriwal a ‘baniya’ and this was par for the political course.
Today, the BSP is trumpeting a 10 percent reservation for poor upper castes (and that is not an oxymoron) in the hope of closing in on the leaders.
AAP is marking the Sikhs and backing reputed human rights activists HS Phoolka in the hope of lifting the scab on 1984 and making that wound bleed into votes.
The BJP will fall back on the Khatris, Aroras, and Banias who are mainstays of the Hindu segment. But it will also try to win back the 30 percent Dalit population that it has alienated with its cow protection hostility and violence.
Everyone now loves the Dalits, and AAP will also hope to sweep enough of them up into its fold.
The SAD hopes to keep the farmers on its side (they being traditional voters) but, as an incumbent party, have been hurt by the zeal of the BJP partnership that has declared a bovine war on Dalits.
Into the mix where Kejriwal might well break the pattern, comes cricketer-comedian Navjot Singh Sidhu with a promise to splinter the vote banks further as he shakes the current political tree.
You read all this and you think, are we that stupid or, worse, do these political entities and their spin doctors believe that the electorate is that stupid and can be emotionally manipulated with such consummate ease?
Yes, we can be that stupid. This is the saddest and most dispiriting response one can get and it is valid. We love caste, we espouse it, feed it, grow it insidiously in our minds and let its vines creep into our psyche and control our thoughts and actions.
Caste overwhelms every other consideration to an extent that we can only watch stupefied as this virus mutates and resists all treatments based on common sense and the fact that we all bleed red.
So sit back, rub the fur of your caste and admire our rampant stupidity.
Updated Date: Oct 22, 2016 15:15 PM