Lok Sabha polls: the caste constituency

1. KARNATAKA
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.

VOKKALIGA –  15%

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.

2. UTTAR PRADESH

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

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

PASI
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.

YADAV
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.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
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.

KURMI
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Second largest backward caste of the state. The seats are Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Gonda, Barabanki, Bareilly, Kheri, Dhaurahra, Basti, Banda, Mirzapur, Varanasi.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
The BJP has taken the lead by fielding a large number of Kurmi candidates and also forging an alliance with Apna Dal in eastern UP. The SP, the BSP and the Congress have all fielded Kurmi candidates. While the BJP has been a choice for Kurmis in the past, the Congress has projected Beni Prasad Verma.

LODH
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Third largest backward caste in UP. Seats are Etah, Farrukhabad, Jhansi, Hamirpur, Unnao, Aligarh, Bulandshahr.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
Kalyan Singh is back in the BJP. Another prominent Lodh is Uma Bharti, contesting
from Jhansi.

KUSHWAHA/MAURYA
AREA OF INFLUENCE: One of the most backward castes, known to back all parties. Seats of influence are Chandauli, Ghazipur, Salempur, Jhansi, Banda.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK

After the BJP’s influence waned in UP, the BSP held sway with its leader Babu Singh Kushwaha and then Swami Prasad Maurya. The SP has now fielded jailed Kushwaha’s wife Shivkanya from Ghazipur.

BRAHMIN
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Eastern UP (Kushinagar, Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Deoria, Bhadohi, Varanasi, Ambedkar Nagar, Sultanpur, Kheri).

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
Considered traditional supporters of the BJP. The Congress has many Brahmin leaders. The BSP has fielded 21 Brahmins, ruling SP also wooing the group.

MUSLIM
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Seats across UP.
CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: The SP has built a strong pro-Muslim image in the state. The Muzaffarnagar riots have somewhat dented the SP’s pro-minority image and the Congress and the BSP are trying to make inroads.

GURJJAR
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Gautam Buddh Nagar, Saharanpur, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Bijnor, Kairana in western UP.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK – Known to back all parties, mostly BJP.

JAT
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Western UP (Mathura, Baghpat, Bijnor, Amroha, Muzaffarnagar, Kairana).
CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
Ajit Singh’s RLD. After riots, the BJP has appealed that Hindus unite.

KSHATRIYA
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Sultanpur, Amethi, Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh, Kaiserganj, Domariyaganj, Gorakhpur, Ballia.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
The BJP has large number of Thakur candidates. The Congress has pockets of influence; SP has many Thakur leaders.

3. GUJARAT

KOLI
AREA OF INFLUENCE: The largest OBC subcommunity in Gujarat is spread across 1,600 km long coastline as well as scattered in central, north and south Gujarat.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: It is equally attached to both the Congress and the BJP.

ST (TOTAL 29 IN GUJARAT)
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Parts of south and northeast Gujarat and Saurashtra peninsula.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: Recently, the BJP has made some dent in their areas with leaders like tribal development minister Ganpat Vasava, but the ST remains largely attached to the Congress.

LEUVA PATEL
AREA OF INFLUENCE: This sub-sect of upper caste Patidar community wield influence through economic strength. It is concentrated in Saurashtra Peninsula and parts of central and north Gujarat.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: Except for 2012 Assembly elections, it is largely attached to the BJP. Most of the ministers in the current Narendra Modi government are the Leuvas. The BJP state president Ranchoddas Faldu is also a Leuva.

KADVA PATEL
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Like the Leuvas, it is the sub-sect of Patidar community. They are also capable of swinging votes in Saurashtra, north and central Gujarat.

CLAIMANTSTOVOTE BANK: With leaders like revenue minister Anandi Patel and former national vice president Purshottam Rupala, the Kadvas are staunch supporters of the BJP.

BRAHMIN AND BANIA (JAIN/VAISHNAV)
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Brahmins are one of the largest upper caste community after Patels and are scattered in Gujarat. As they fail to match up economically with the Patels, the influence of the Brahmins leaders have diluted in both the Congress and the BJP over the period of time. The Jains, who have recently got minority status, are scattered mainly in the urban pockets.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: Have remained staunch supporters of the BJP as they identify with the ideology of the saffron party. This time, the BJP has fielded only one Brahmin candidate, actor Paresh Rawal from Ahmedabad East. The Jains too, who religiously relate to the Hindus, are staunch supporters of the BJP.

KSHATRIYA
AREA OF INFLUENCE: An upper caste with couple of leaders in both the BJP and the Congress, the Kshatriya have influence in parts of Saurashtra like Bhavnagar and Surendranagar and north Gujarat, including Sabarkantha.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: Traditionally, the community is Congress supporter since 1980, when former Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki spearheaded social engineering by consolidating Kshatriya, Harijan, Ahir and Muslim communities to come to power. The same theory pushed the Patidars to the BJP.

THAKOR
AREA OF INFLUENCE: A sub-sect of OBC, they wield influence over North and Central Gujarat.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: Traditionally Congress supporters, but in the recent times the community has been seen divided among the two major parties.

AHIR
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Mainly parts of Saurashtra, including Jamnagar, Rajkot and Bhavnagar, they are sub sect of OBC.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: The Ahirs, known as the Yadavs in Hindi belt, are traditionally attached to the Congress.

MUSLIM
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Central Gujarat, South Gujarat and parts of Saurashtra.
CLAIMANTS TO VOTE BANK: Over 9 per cent of the total population of Gujarat, the Muslims have remained attached to the Congress and the Godhara riots in 2002 have further pushed them away from the BJP. The Sadbhavna Mission by Chief Minister Narendra Modi saw a section of elite Muslims showing signs of acceptance for him. But the mission has appealed only to a limited section.

4. TELANGANA

FORWARD CASTES (10-15%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Reddys in Nalgonda, Medak, Warangal, Mahbubnagar, Ranga Reddy, Karimnagar, Nizamabad. Velamas in Karimnagar, Warangal, Adilabad, Nizamabad, Rangareddy, Medak, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Hyderabad Kammas, Vaishyas, Brahmins spread across Telangana.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally all have voted for Congress OBCs (45-50% ) Yadavas, Goudas, Padmashalis, Mudiraj, Munuru Kapus

AREAS OF INFLUENCE:
Spread across Telangana.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK:
Traditionally voted for Telugu Desam Party.
MUSLIMS (12%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Spread across Karimnagar, Adilabad, Khammam, Mahbubnagar and Nizamabad.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally vote for Congress, at times for TDP too. Hyderabad’s 41% Muslims traditionally vote for MIM.

SCs (16%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Spread across Telangana
CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally voted for Congress.
STs (10%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Spread across Telangana
CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally voted for Congress.

5. SEEMANDHRA
REDDYS (4.5%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Nellore, Chittoor, Prakasam, Guntur, Kurnool, Kadapa and Anantapur.
CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally vote for Congress. Congress, TDP and YSR Congress Party have fielded several Reddy candidates.

KAMMAS (4 TO 4.5%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Prakasam, Guntur, Chittoor, Krishna, East and West Godavari.
CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: TDP
KAPUS (18 TO 27%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Spread across 9 coastal districts. Claimants to votebank: Traditionally vote
for Congress. YSRCP is eyeing this significant vote bank, so is the Congress.

SCs (17%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Malas and Madigas spread across Coastal and Rayalaseema districts.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally voted for Congress but have moved towards YSRCP.
BACKWARD CLASSES (40-42%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Yadavas, Munnuru Kapus, spread all over the 13 districts.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK: Traditionally vote for TDP. YSRCP is looking to take away a big chunk.

5. CHHATTISGARH

TRIBALS
AREA OF INFLUENCE
The biggest community in the state and comprising over 30 per cent of the total population. As many as 29 of the 90 assembly seats and 4 of the 11 Lok Sabha seats are reserved for them. A majority of them are concentrated in south and north Chhattisgarh of Bastar and Surguja, they are scattered in other parts too.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
They do not form a votebank and are not known to have a particular preference for any party or vote en masse for any candidate. Politics and polarisation of tribals is hardly seen in the state that has not had any tribal chief minister. Except a few like Mahendra Karma there has not been any major tribal leader and even he was limited to Bastar.

SATNAMI
AREA OF INFLUENCE
The most powerful and politically aware SC sub-caste in Chhattisgarh. Mostly concentrated in central plains and dominate some 20 assembly seats.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
Traditional supporters of the Congress, but the BJP played a coup in the last assembly elections, reportedly fronted up Satnami Sena, a political party comprising community priests just before polls and clinched nine of the ten SC seats in Assembly. In Lok Sabha, one seat is reserved for them, they can influence the outcome in at least three other seats.

SAHU
AREA OF INFLUENCE
The most powerful and polarised OBC sub-caste. Spread across Central plains, known to vote in large chunks and decide over 20 assembly seats.

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
A few years ago heavyweight BJP dissident late Tarachand Sahu split and formed Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch, an outfit of Sahus. The Manch, led by Tarachand’s son Deepak, recently merged with the parent party with an objective of “clean sweep and winning all 11 Lok Sabha seats for BJP”. The two most famous Sahus of Chhattisgarh, BJP’s Chandrashekhar Sahu and Congress’s Dhanendra Sahu, have been contesting and alternatively winning assembly elections in Abhanpur constituency for the last 7 terms. Of the 51 unreserved assembly seats, nine have Sahu MLAs at present.

6. MAHARASHTRA
MARATHAS ( 30-33%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Spread across all 48 seats to varying extents but essentially, they have overwhelming dominance in three regions, Western Maharashtra, Marathwada and North Maharashtra

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
Congress and NCP enjoy more support from Marathas than BJP-Shiv Sena

OTHER BACKWARD
COMMUNITIES ( 27%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Vidarbha, most of Marathwada and parts of northern Maharashtra

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
All parties see OBCs as a votebank, but the Shiv Sena and the BJP have the upper hand compared to the Congress and the NCP

MUSLIMS (10.6%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Prominent in Konkan, parts of Marathwada and northern Maharashtra

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
The Congress and the NCP

SCHEDULED CASTES
(10.5% TO 12%)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Dominant in Marathwada, also present in parts of Vidarbha, the north and the west

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
The Congress and the NCP

SCHEDULED TRIBES (8.5%)
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Present across the state in select constituencies, including parts of north Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Konkan

CLAIMANTS TO VOTEBANK
The Congress and the NCP enjoy more support compared to the BJP-Shiv Sena

 

Contributed by Johnson T A, Ramendra Singh, Hiral Dave, Sreenivas Janyala, Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Shubhangi Khapre