Monday, May 19, 2008

Is it germination of caste politics in Orissa?

Rahul Gandhi made two frequent visits to Orissa in recent months. I would rate his second visit more important than the first one. The objectives of the first visit were clear. It was all about winning the hearts and minds of people , I mean Aam Admi. And Orissa was part of the process. Let me come straight to his second visit.

During his second visit, the congress youth leader preferred to meet only the lower caste people. So he selected two famous cities, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. He did not allow any other people; people from other castes and even the congress leaders to attend the meeting. It disappointed the congress leaders.

Why did Rahul decide to take such a decision when he knows that his caste politics formula was unsuccessful in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat?

Let me explain the nature of Orissa politics in brief (very brief).

In Orissa, Brahmins and Karans (more popular as Pattnaiks or Kayasths) have been dominating politics for the last 50 years. If you take a close look at all the leading parties in the state, you may admit that either a Brahmin or Karan at the top?

The Pattnaiks - Biju, J B, Naveen are Karans. Nandini Satpathy is a Brahimin. And so it goes.

From 1980 to 2000, it was Karan leaders who ruled the state -- J B Patnaik for the first 14 years and Biju for five. In between there came two tribal leaders: Giridhar Gamang and Hemanand Biswal. These two leaders remained in power for a short period that missed public memory largely. Now Naveen Pattnaik! He is in power for the second consecutive terms.

If caste is not a factor then why is it that only Brahmins and Karans have ruled the state for most part of the last 50 years.

The first chief minister of Orissa, the late Nabakrishna Chaudhry was a Karan by caste. He was succeeded by Harekrushna Mahtab, a Chatriya (Rajput). After him, another Karan Biran Mitra became the CM. Biju Patnaik succeeded him. Then came Sadashiv Tripathy, a Brahimin. He was followed by Biswanath Das, his caste brother. In the early 70s, a Chatriya, R N Singh Deo, became the chief minister. Then Nandini Satpathy came to power. She was succeeded by another Brahmin, Binayak Acharya. It was only in 1977 that a backward caste politician, Nilamani Routray, became chief minister. Even then, it is believed that he was just a rubber stamp of Biju Patnaik.

In Orissa, Brahmins constitute about seven per cent of the population while the Karans are about four per cent.

Whenever, a tribal has become the chief minister of the Congress, the Karan and Brahmin lobbies within the party have campaigned so that the high command replaced him. It is evident in the way Gridhar Gamang was replaced.

Viewed so, should I conclude that the second visit of Rahul Gandhi is the germination of caste politics in Orissa?


Anonymous said...

Not only in Orissa but in West Bengal also it is Kayastha & Brahmin politicians who dominate.Not only the capitalist (Italian National) Congress & Trinamool Congress, but even the CPM is dominated by Brahmins & Kayasthas.Examples are Jyoti Basu, Nilotpal Basu, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Somnath Chatterjee, Mamta Banerjee, Pranab Mukherjee et al. India is a peculiar country. Unusual & unexpected things happen here. Tamil Nadu is a rabidly anti-Brahmin state where a virulent anti-Brahmin movement (DK & DMK) was spearheaded by E.V.Ramaswami Naicker (popularly called by the title "Periyar" which means "Mahapurush") who was a Kannada-speaking Balija (Kapu) Naidu of Karnataka origin. Although he was a Kannadiga he never conducted any anti-Brahmin campaign in his native state of Karnataka, or Andhra Pradesh where his Balija caste people live in great numbers but confined his anti-Brahmin activities to Tamil Nadu. In such a state nobody ever even dreamt that a Brahmin lady from Karnataka (Jayalalita) would reign supreme as Chief Minister for ten years! It was nothing short of a miracle. Another miracle happened in the North. A Dalit lady reigns supreme in U.P. (Mayawati) which was once considerd to be the CITADEL of Brahminism! This she achieved with the help of Brahmins whom she hated. She goes on erecting statues of Periyar EVR who was the arch enemy of not only Brahmins but also North Indians, Hindi & other North Indian languages, "Aryans" & Hinduism. He used to beat the idols of Lord Rama with chappals & break the idols of Lord Ganesh. India is a very peculiar country indeed !

Bishnubrata said...

It is reallyy shocked to read in one of your sentenses that Mr Nillamani Routray was one of the rubber stamp of Mr Biju pattnaik. Well it is completely wrong . Both were very good friends of each other . But Late shri nilamani routray was completely independent minded , and he was never biased by late shri biju pattnaik . I know these things as i personaaly have been very close to both of them.Both are equally socialist and have contributed a lot to our society especially to the people of Orissa. Nilamani routray was a great being and personality , his contributions to our state of orissa are remarkable.He is probably the only ideal politician which the state of orissa has seen.

Anonymous said...

E.V.Ramaswami Naicker was 100% Telugu man of Balija Naidu(Kapu/Telaga caste).He spoke Telugu,Kannada and Tamil and not necessarily Kannada only.

lini said...

The article is in bad taste and appears to be designed to fragment the society on caste lines. Credit goes to people of Orissa for reposing faith and confidence on their Leaders, who eventually became the Chief Ministers of the State. To be a good leader, one has to have leadership qualities,dynamisms, honesty, charishma for attracting the mass, etc and to comply with such requirements Caste is not a governing factor.
It is the history of the State that Brahmins and Karans are well educated and relatively they have demonstrated better leadership qualities and hence they had been at the helms of the State affairs.
Therefore let us not bring the "caste factor" into Orissa political scenario, which will only tear apart the social fabric, without any impact on the development of the State.

Keshvam Singh said...

Once West Odisha or the koshal region is separated from Odisha,Khandayats and Aghrias will alone dominate.Then we will see to it which brahmin and karan motherfucker come to be at the helms of all affairs.

Bibhu Prasad Mohanty said...

This posting is of nasty taste. It divides Orissa into different segments on basis of caste. For kind information the lead of freedom fight was with learned and open minded people of Odisha. Many non Karan and Non Brahmins excelled in their respective fields. Odisha produced so many unbiased leaders in different fields of development. Above posting is a reflection of narrow mind and nasty separatist views.

Biswajit Paikaray said...

those who have written such comment i would like to say you that gajapati raja is a khandayat by caste .not only odisha but all other parts of indian have been under kshatriya naveen pattanaik is the cm but why did you forget about 52 from khandayat from 142 seats caste that indicate sinle largest representation .we have already over this land for 3500years just only for 60years (mixed cm)donot forget khandayat contribution.karans are the working caste they don;t have particular clan like kshatriyas(solar,fire.serpent and lunar) so they don;t have any particular gotras.they have got zamindars (not in all areas)by giving undue loyality to please do n;t create any controversy by writing such article.

biswajit srichandan paikaray

Prafulla Pattanayak said...

what a foolish topic!caste is not a talent if other caste has such talent they also can acquire the position. and one thing Mr Biswajit Paikray for ur kind information Karana is not a caste it is a designation given by Chodaganga Dev for Puri Jagannath temple and all karanas have Bramhan Gotras because they belongs to Niyogi Bramhin.and one more thing is Khsatriya and khandayat are different caste khandayats are comes under OBC not Khsyatriyas and Krushna chandra Gajapti was a Khsyatriya not Khandayat.if u dont know pls try to study the indian caste system and sastras where u can find all these things.

Anonymous said...

The posts make interesting reading. Though caste has never been a vital and determining factor in Odisha politics or public life like rest of the country;barring,West Bengal,Assam ,Kashmir and the NE,I can with authority say that the state is highly Brahmanical. I am from Jeypore. Right from my childhood I saw how badly Adivasis and SCs were treated by the Oriyas and Telugus. Just a hundred km away-cross the AP- border one finds a marked difference in the outlook of the people. Caste awareness has not taken roots in Odisha.That should not lead one to conclude that the society is progressive. It is also interpreted as silence in grave yard. Despite constituting 35 per cent of the population of the state can the SC/STs install Ambedkar statues in large numbers like their counterparts elsewhere.