Caste and Politics:
Establishment of casteless society is an established and pronounced goal of every major political party in India. But at the same time, castes and caste system is very much well rooted in socio-economic and political structure of our society.
Today a serious problem with which nation faced is as to what is the relationship of caste and politics in India. Is the hold facts on politics weakening or strengthening? Is the caste exerting its heave pressure on politics of India? These are some of the serious problems which face us today in to so far as caste and politics is concerned.
During British days for quite some time, Indians had no share in running their own administration. Accordingly it is difficult to establish relationship and influence of caste on politics. When however, the system of election started in the country, it became clear that caste is exerting its pressure on politics. Each caste, community and religion then tried to have maximum seats in the elected bodies. Since seats in the legislatures were reserved for major religions, therefore, hold of caste became still more tight. It was however, after India became! Free that the establishment of a casteless society became one of the objectives of our political set up.
Position in Free India:
When India became free, there was every hope that caste will cease to be a very effective instrument in deciding our future course of politics. But it appears that things have not come up to our expectations and the caste still continues to influence Indian politics.
Even nearly six decades after independence newspapers carry frequent reports about the atrocities committed on Harijans by other caste people, subjecting them to many hardships. Not
The people belonging to different castes therefore try to have maximum control over maximum number of Panchayats. The area of elections being very limited, castes play big role in influencing voters. In fact candidates win and lose on the popularity and strength of their caste. Each election thus strengthens caste system.
The another reason is desire of castes particularly the low castes, not to give up their privileges. Since British days low castes have been given reservation of seats in all educational institutions, services and elected fact privileges and concessions to caste people are day by day increasing.
These castes are not at all prepared to give up their privileges and thus they try to strengthen their castes base. Any attempt to provide a solution to a problem other than caste basis is resented by these castes.
Still another reason for strengthening caste in politics is the extension of adult franchise. Under the system every adult in every caste has right to vote. There is a growing feeling among the peoples of all castes that if they do not vote on caste basis they will be out-numbered by the members of other castes who in turn will dominate them. In this way person belonging to all castes support the idea in favour of their own caste candidates.
Still another factor responsible for this is the system of indirect elections. In our political system for the Upper House in the state representatives are to be elected by the State legislatures. In this way there is an interchanging in which once a caste gets control even over local bodies, it will have some say in national politics.
Thus caste gets its roots at local level, in this way a deep relationship, on caste basis develops between Ministers and village leaders.
In this way it can be said that due to the privileges which have been guaranteed and given to those belonging to different castes, attitude of those castes which have been denied such privileges, appears to have hardened.
In some parts of the country, caste barriers in politics have become very rigid and thus these have helped in strengthening rather than abolishing caste society, which is proclaimed policy of several political parties.
Political Factions and Caste:
Now a very interesting question that has been posed is that when caste acts as a political faction and votes are caste in favour of a particular candidate on caste basis even then caste retain its character as a caste of becomes a political faction, thereby defying caste traditions.
Impact of Caste on Politics:
Such a deep impact of caste on politics does not appear to be very healthy. If an unholy alliance between caste and politics continues then, it is feared that at one stage, security of state even might be in danger. G.S. Ghurye has rightly observed that, “Unholy alliance of caste and politics will surely jeopardies not only the peace but even the security of the country.”
It is therefore; very essential that such an unholy alliance between caste and politics should be brought to an end as early as possible. It is however, fully well realised that only legal provisions will not serve the purpose. For this the psychology and thinking 0f masses will have to be changed.
The people will have to realise that the caste must be sacrificed for the sake of purity in administration and nepotism is to be wiped out both for national interests and security.