The caste factor that wasn’t

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on May 16, 2014

Voter behaviour annihilated caste like never before in Elections-2014. A decisive vote for governance obliterated community affinities across States, upsetting all set notions about caste linkages to voting patterns.

Mayawati’s defeat

The most-startling example of this extraordinary change was the fall of the mighty Mayawati. The Bahujan Samaj Party, with a large Dalit base, failed to win even a single seat in Uttar Pradesh. It finished second in 31 constituencies, but the margin between the winner and the runner-up was about two lakh votes on an average. That means that even its base voters, the Chamars, preferred Modi to Mayawati.

Similarly, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, which claims the support of the Jat community in Uttar Pradesh, bit the dust with the party’s total coming to zilch. It could secure the second position in just one seat. They lost all the other seven seats to the BJP, despite the last minute decision of the Congress to reserve jobs for the Jats in the Central Government.

Ajit Singh, thus far considered the tallest leader among the Jats in western UP, lost his own seat, and his son Jayant Chowdhary lost to Hema Malini of the BJP in Mathura. Even his last minute attempts to consolidate the Jat votes by fielding Rakesh Tikait, the son of the feisty community leader, the late Mahender Singh Tikait from Amroha in western UP, failed to win over the community. The Jats vote en masse for the BJP as did everyone else in the State.

Indian National Lok Dal, the principal Opposition party in Haryana which too has its support base among the Jats, could not match its performance with its claims. It won two seats and came second in three seats out of the 10 constituencies in the State.

In Tamil Nadu, caste-based outfits such as Pattali Makkal Katchi could not fight the AIADMK wave despite BJP support.

The BJP, which has always claimed ideological opposition to caste identity-based politics, seemed to carry the day and the election this time.

Published on May 16, 2014

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