Jhansi, Oct. 25: Narendra Modi today told a rally in Jhansi that he was born into a “poor” and, more significantly, “pichhada” (backward caste) family.
Modi, who belongs to the most-backward caste of Tellis or oil pressers, is known to fight shy of publicly mentioning his caste background for fear it may alienate the “classes” that have begun to see him as India’s great hope.
But Bundelkhand, the region where he spoke today, is overwhelmingly populated by the backward castes, especially those near the bottom of the social and economic ladder, including the Tellis.
Given the backward castes’ huge numbers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Sangh and the BJP have decided to cite Modi’s caste antecedents in their campaign. In Uttar Pradesh, Sangh whole-timers are propagating the message in the villages. The BJP hopes to mobilise the non-Yadav backward castes and most-backward castes by telling them that electing Modi will allow India to have its first backward-caste Prime Minister.
India has already had a backward-caste Prime Minister in H.D. Deve Gowda, but the BJP has been conveniently ignoring this historical fact.
The party today unleashed a galaxy of backward-caste leaders on Uttar Pradesh, including Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti (both Lodh Rajputs) and Vinay Katiyar, a Kurmi.