The recent release of the findings of a landmark caste census in the eastern Indian state of Bihar has the potential to threaten the grip on power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The census found that over two-thirds of Bihar’s population of over 130 million belonged to “backward” or marginalised communities. This includes groups such as Dalits (formerly known as untouchables), Adivasis (indigenous peoples), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
These groups have historically been underrepresented in government and other positions of power. The release of the caste census data could lead to increased demands for better representation for these groups, which could challenge the BJP’s dominance of Indian politics.
The BJP has traditionally relied on the support of upper-caste Hindu voters. However, the caste census data shows that upper-caste Hindus make up a minority of the Indian population. This suggests that the BJP may need to broaden its base of support if it wants to maintain its grip on power.
The release of the caste census data could also have a significant impact on the upcoming general election in India, which is scheduled to be held in 2024. The BJP is facing a number of challenges, including rising inflation and unemployment. The caste census data could further complicate the BJP’s electoral prospects.
It is important to note that the release of the caste census data is just the beginning. It is now up to the Indian government and civil society to ensure that the data is used to improve the lives of marginalized groups. If this happens, it could have a profound impact on Indian society and politics.
Here are some specific ways in which the caste census data could threaten Modi’s grip on power:
The data could lead to increased demands for affirmative action programs for marginalized groups. This could challenge the BJP’s narrative that it is a party that represents all Indians, regardless of caste.
The data could also lead to increased awareness of caste discrimination and inequality in India. This could put pressure on the BJP to take action to address these issues.
The data could also help to mobilize marginalized groups to vote against the BJP in the upcoming general election.
Overall, the release of the caste census data is a significant development that could have a major impact on Indian politics. It remains to be seen how Modi and the BJP will respond to the data, but it is clear that it poses a challenge to their grip on power.