Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the constitution of a committee post-assembly elections 2023 in Telangana on empowering the Dalit (Scheduled Castes) communities, including ensuring justice to the Madiga community fighting for its proportional quota within the SC reservation for about three decades.
The Prime Minister spoke at a rally organized in the Secunderabad district of Telangana by the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS). MRPS is a community organization of Madigas, one of the largest constituents of Scheduled Castes in Telugu states, which fights for the categorization of SCs.
The PM denoted the entire Madiga community by saying that the BJP stood with the Madiga community in every struggle over the last three decades. He emphasized that in the last 10 years, the Telangana government has only betrayed everyone, including, the Madiga community.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted the struggles of MRPS founder Manda Krishna Madiga.
How is the Madiga community?
The Madiga are a subgroup of the Chamars, a tanning community. Being tanners means low status because they are dealing with dead matter, even worse, skins from “holy” cattle cows. The Indian government gives the Madiga people a scheduled caste status, which allows them to have many privileges. According to varna tradition, the Madiga community was cursed for killing and eating cow flesh.
The Madiga community lives in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, but they also live in other parts of southern India. A small number are also in West Bengal.
Though many Madiga people are still tanners, some are now landless farmers. The Green Revolution of the 1960s increased agricultural yields and the wealth of those who owned land. But those who did not own land like the Madigas became even more dependent on landowning communities, while some Madiga families lived in poverty.
Some are village drummers who offer their services for funerals and weddings. Others are street sweepers.
The Madiga community constitutes nearly 50% of the SC population in Telangana. The community has long sought distinct quotas, arguing the benefits of reservation have disproportionately favored other SC groups like the Malas.
Who is Manda Krishna Madiga?
Manda Krishna Madiga is the founder of Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS). The MRPS was established in July 1994 in Edumudi village, Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. It was made to implement internal reservations.
The movement is known popularly as ‘Madiga Dandora’ and refers to advocacy for the sub-classification of reservations.
There are four major anti-caste Ambedkarite organizations in Telangana – Dalita Mala Mahanadu (DMM), Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS), Kula Vivaksha Porata Samithi (KVPS) and Kula Nirmulana Porata Samithi (KNPS). Out of these, at present, MRPS is the most prominent one.
Why Madiga matters in Telangana Assembly Elections 2023?
According to the 2011 census, there are 54.08 lakh Dalits in Telangana, comprising about 15.5% of the state’s population. Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao in 2021 said that this percentage had gone up to about 17% while seeking a nationwide caste census by the Union government.
Among the Dalit population in the state, Madigas are numerically more powerful than Malas but socially and economically disadvantaged in comparison. Malas are seen as having reaped the benefits of reservation disproportionately among SCs due to various social and political factors.
Madigas are believed to constitute about 50% of the Dalit population in the state, which means they are the single largest block among the 59 sub-castes of Telangana. This means Madiga is a major vote bank for political matters in assembly elections.
Since the formation of MRPS in 1994, they received the support of other SC sub-castes such as Dasari, Sindhollu, Dandasi, and Bindla apart from Madigas. Manda Krishna also rose in prominence as the face of these communities. Hence, this makes them important to the political parties.
Post-independence, untouchability was banned in India but still, many communities are discriminated against according to the low status in the caste system. To avoid this discrimination, reservation quota was given to the scheduled caste (SC), scheduled tribes (ST), and another backward caste (OBC).
Still, many communities within scheduled caste (SC) are left behind to avail the benefits of reservation quota. The same is the reason for the MRPS struggle to get quota for the Madiga. It would be interesting to see what this announcement made by PM Modi for the formation of a committee for the Madiga community brings.
How will other political parties take steps to gain votes from these communities, as they are the major vote bank in the Telangana Assembly Election 2023?