Will Caste Faultlines Help BJP in UP’s Awadh Region?

The Wire: 26 April 2019


Mohanlal Nishad swims to the shores of the river Gomti with the last catch of fish in his hand. He has had a good day’s work. He lives in Arjunpur village in Sulatanpur. He confidently says he will vote for the mahagathbandhan (MGB), but adds hastily that if his netas(leaders) from his biradari (community) tell him to vote for the BJP, then he will follow their diktat.

Another elderly Nishad, Mithailal, who runs a small paan shop, says diktat or not, he will vote for the BJP.

Sushila lives in Milkipur block of Faizabad district and teaches in a private school. She belongs to the Kori caste, the same as President Ram Nath Kovind. Sushila is annoyed with the BSP because she believes it is a party of Jatavs.

Suresh Pasi is a young bubbly man from Barabanki district. He earns his living doing on-the-job-training at a mobile repair shop. He says, “Sab kuch jaatiyee samikaran par nirbhar hai (the outcome of the elections will depend on caste dynamics).” He adds that he will vote for the BJP because he is fed-up of the “casteism and communalism” practiced by other parties.

Mitailal, Sushila and Suresh belong to non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav Dalit castes and live in rural UP.