Lok Sabha polls: the caste constituency

Lingayat – 17%

The state’s single largest upper-caste community, concentrated largely in northern and central Karnataka (Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bidar, Bijapur, Chikkodi, Chitradurga, Davangere, Dharwad and Haveri)

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally an anti-Congress and pro-BJP vote base with B S Yeddyurappa being a central claimant. The effect of the exit of Yeddyurappa from the BJP and his recent re-entry has stirred things up.


Concentrated in the south districts with a few variants among agriculturists in the coastal and northern districts (Mandya, Chikaballapur, Hassan, Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore South and Mysore)

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Considered the core JD(S) vote base with H D Deve Gowda a sort of patriarch. The Congress has in recent times managed to make some inroads into winning the support of the community with local leaders such as K Shivakumar and M H Ambareesh.

BACKWARD CASTES – 30% Spread all over the state. Among the most dominant are Kurubas and Idigas. The Kurubas or shepherds are estimated to be about 8%.

CLAIMANTS: The Congress has been attempting to consolidate the Kuruba vote under the leadership of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. It has been attempting to rally other backward castes, scheduled
castes, scheduled tribes and minorities to build a rainbow coalition.

SCs 17% – Spread all over Karnataka and there are elaborate categorisations of left Dalits and right Dalits that go into the number crunching by political parties.

CLAIMANTS: Traditionally a Congress vote base, they have in recent times been lured by the BJP and the JD(S).

STs 7% Certain tribes like the Valmiki Nayaks are politically more powerful than others.

CLAIMANTS: STs have leaders mainly in the Congress and the BJP. One popular Valmiki Nayak leader is B Sreeramulu, former BJP minister from Bellary.

MUSLIM –  8% Spread all over the state.

CLAIMANTS: The Congress and the JD(S); the latter has in recent times lost some ground.


AREA OF INFLUENCE: Spread across UP, the largest, most influential Dalit sub-caste.

Strongly connected to the BSP as most of the party’s base consists of Jatavs. Most leaders including Mayawati are Jatavs.

AREA OF INFLUENCE: Second largest Dalit sub-caste after Jatavs. Concentrated in central and eastern UP. Seats are Mohanlalganj, Misrikh, Hardoi, Sitapur, Barabanki, Rae Bareli, Unnao, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Phulpur.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: SP and BJP have nurtured these groups to counter BSP’s sway on Jatavs. Of the 10 SP MPs who won reserved seats, half were Pasis. The caste group is known to back all
parties. The BJP, Congress, SP and BSP have fielded Pasis in most reserved seats.

AREA OF INFLUENCE: Largest backward caste in UP, mostly concentrated in Agra- Kanpur belt and in eastern UP. Seats are Mainpuri, Etawah, Etah, Firozabad, Kannauj, Farrukhabad, Badaun, Faizabad, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Azamgarh.

Yadavs have traditionally supported the SP. Most of Yadav-majority seats are contested by family members of Mulayam Singh Yadav. The BJP and the BSP, too, have a few Yadav leaders but no overwhelming support from the caste for these parties.

AREA OF INFLUENCE: Second largest backward caste of the state. The seats are Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Gonda, Barabanki, Bareilly, Kheri, Dhaurahra, Basti, …continued »