The importance of Madigas – The Hindu

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS) leader Manda Krishna Madiga during a public rally in Hyderabad in November 2023.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

The rivalry between the Malas and Madigas, sub-castes among the Scheduled Castes (SCs) in Telangana, has come to the fore yet again after political parties, especially the Congress, announced candidates for the general elections.

The Madigas constitute 59.52% of the SCs in the State, whereas the Malas constitute 28.11%. But when the Congress announced its candidates for the three SC reserved parliamentary constituencies in Telangana – Peddapalli, Nagarkurnool, and Warangal — there was no Madiga name on the list.

The Congress seems to have taken a calculated risk by naming two Mala candidates for the Nagarkurnool and Peddapalli seats, which have Madiga voters in sizeable numbers. Dr. Mallu Ravi, Special Representative of the State government in New Delhi, is the Congress candidate from Nagarkurnool. He is the elder brother of Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.

Gaddam Vamshi Krishna, an industrialist, is testing his political fortunes from the Peddapalli Lok Sabha seat, which was once represented by his grandfather and former Union Minister, Gaddam Venkataswamy, and father, Dr. Gaddam Vivekananda.

For the Warangal seat, the Congress has chosen Dr. Kadiyam Kavya, daughter of senior Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Kadiyam Srihari. Ms. Kavya, who switched to the grand old party last month much to the chagrin of the BRS, belongs to the non-Madiga–Bandla community.

The Congress argues that it has chosen candidates based on their winnability and popularity. But this has not cut much ice with the Madigas, who are upset at what they see as a complete side-lining of the community.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the BRS have allotted tickets to Madiga candidates and are trying to project the government led by Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy as “anti-Madiga”.

Though it did not announce candidates from the community, the ruling party has begun to woo a section of influential Madiga leaders. This could assuage the anger to an extent. In March, Satish Madiga, one of the key members of the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), left the BJP to join the Congress. The MRPS has been claiming that Malas, who are numerically strong in Andhra Pradesh and numerically weaker compared to the Madigas in Telangana, have cornered the benefits of SC reservation in education and employment. They believe that the answer to this “disparity” is SC sub-categorisation.

The BJP is banking on MRPS founder Manda Krishna Madiga, who supports the party from outside, to help it win votes. Last November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a rally of Madigas in Hyderabad where he announced the constitution of a Cabinet sub-committee to expedite the sub-categorisation of SCs. He also consoled a teary-eyed Manda Krishna Madiga on stage. But the outcome of the 2023 Assembly polls showed that the announcement and gesture did not find much favour with the electorate; Congress candidates won 14 out of the 19 SC seats by huge margins and nine Scheduled Tribe (ST) seats. While some Congress Madiga leaders say Mr. Manda Krishna Madiga holds some influence in the community, they don’t believe that this will translate into votes for the BJP.

Also read | Manda Krishna Madiga has no right to comment on Congress, says former Minister

The BJP is once again egging on Mr. Manda Krishna Madiga to rake up the sub-categorisation issue but it is unlikely that it will benefit from the campaign this time too. However, given Mr. Manda Krishna Madiga’s changing stances on issues and his unpredictable political position, political parties, particularly the Congress and the BRS, are wary of his moves.

The BRS, which lost the Assembly polls mainly due to defections and the arrest of MLC K. Kavitha, is desperately trying to keep its flock together. It has managed to woo Dr. R.S. Praveen Kumar, who was Bahujan Samaj Party State president and is now the BRS candidate from the Nagarkurnool constituency. Mr. Kumar, a Madiga, enjoys the goodwill of Dalits. He worked as an IPS officer and later as Secretary of the Telangana State Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions.

This election, ignoring the Madigas could affect the prospects of the Congress. It is equally a challenge for the floundering BRS to attract votes from the group. Whether the BJP’s caste card will help it perform better remains to be seen.

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