Will class politics replace caste politics in India? -Rahul Verma and Ankita Barthwal
Politics in India has been based on caste in recent decades. But a rising middle class and increasing inequality within caste groups is paving the way for a class-based faultline.
One cliché looms large in every election campaign in India: that caste politics may finally give way to class politics. But as counting begins on the day of the election verdict, caste subsumes every other factor, even in serious analyses of election results.
In the recently held Bihar assembly elections, Tejashwi Yadav’s jobs plank couched in the language of ‘economic justice’ came across as the dawn of class politics. In the post-election analysis, this factor had disappeared entirely.
So, does caste continue to rule politics as always? Or is there a new class consciousness emerging in the country? Our reading of the tea leaves suggests the latter. Three key factors seem to have raised the salience of class in India’s polity today, we reason. Rising inequality in the country, widened by the pandemic, is the first and most immediate factor. The second factor is the emergence of a new aspirational class with its own values and expectations from the state. The final factor is the fragmentation of old caste coalitions and the interplay of caste and class in recreating caste coalitions and political affiliations.
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Livemint.com, 12 December, 2020, https://www.livemint.com/news/india/will-class-politics-replace-caste-politics-in-india-11607672972899.html