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The BJP’s caste arithmetic is collapsing under its own weight

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Demonetisation was at the heart of destabilising the BJP’s carefully constructed caste coalition.

The rise of the BJP – since the Ram Mandir movement generally, and in the Modi era particularly – has come on the back of meticulously crafted caste coalitions. These may differ from state to state, but there’s one big pattern. They have married their Brahmin-Bania upper caste core base with the lower OBCs who have felt marginalised by dominant OBC communities such as Yadavs, Jats or Marathas.

Even with the Modi wave the BJP would not have won 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh if it hadn’t brought back Lodh leader Kalyan Singh in the party, and hadn’t allied with Kurmi party Apna Dal, which won another two seats for the NDA in the state.

Yet the Modi wave also helped the party win votes despite the hurdle of caste. Narendra Modi’s 2014 campaign, which projected a prime ministerial candidate whom people can trust to deliver on development, helped the BJP win even some Dalit votes. Caste communities that dislike each other so much that they try not to vote for the same party, came together for Modi.

Also read: Modi’s quota bill is just a band-aid solution and doesn’t promise more jobs

Narendra Modi’s caste narrative peaked with demonetisation, which held out the promise of making class more important than caste. Modi went for a poor versus rich polarisation,........

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