Caste-based politicians in India have learnt that by ruthlessly targeting their message at the narrow slice of the population they represent they can win state elections.
The regional leaders who have learnt to exploit the key advantage lower-caste voters have: their sheer weight of numbers. About half the Indian population is classified as lower caste.
The BJP and its national rival the Congress party, meanwhile, has to water its message down to attempt to appeal to almost everyone.
Laloo Prasad Yadav, was one of the first post-independence politicians to refine cast and religion based strategy down to a fine art.
He ruled Bihar for almost 20years, thanks to the seemingly impregnable electoral alliance he forged between the state’s Muslims and the large, traditionally cow-herding, Yadav caste that delivered 30% of the vote at every election.
Law and order wasn’t a priority and kidnapping flourished alongside the state’s traditional mango and lichi industries. Gradually the chaos and economic decline of the state began to weaken the electoral alliance he had created..
The issue was exactly what he needed to drive a wedge between the lower caste Hindus and the Muslims that are the electoral bedrock of the Grand Alliance.
Nation is awaiting results of ongoing state elections in Assam, West Bengal and Keral ,but don’t hold your breath to find out who prevails. This being India even state elections are democratic contests on a truly staggering scale.
There are 66 million people eligible to vote will finally decide…