Upper Castes Rule Modi’s Cabinet, Backwards Relegated To MoS


Only three of the 46 ministers can clearly be identifiedas non-Hindus – Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a Sikh, and Najma Heptulla, a Muslim.

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi-led regime promises sweeping changes in a host of areas, but one aspect in which it seems to have bowed to tradition is the caste composition of the council of ministers. Various upper castes, like Brahmins, Rajputs, Kayasthas and Vaishyas in the north or socially dominant communities that are for all practical purposes ‘forward’ like Lingayats, Vokkaligas and Marathas, account for 20 of the 46 ministerial berths. OBCs have 13 representatives, tribals six and dalits three.

Only three of the 46 ministers can clearly be identified as non-Hindus – Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a Sikh, and Najma Heptulla, a Muslim. Two others – Smriti Irani and Maneka Gandhi – are difficult to define by caste/community. What is interesting is how the caste mix changes across different levels of responsibility. Among the 24 Cabinet members (including Modi), 12 are upper caste, five OBC, two dalit and one a tribal. At this level, there is a marked dominance of the upper castes.

Move one step down and among the 10 ministers of state with independent charge, five are upper caste, four are OBC, none are dalit and there is just one tribal. Again, the upper castes form the biggest chunk, but OBCs are only a little behind them.

Among ministers of state without independent charge, the pattern completely changes. Of the 12, tribals and OBCs have four each, while there are only three upper caste representatives. There is a solitary dalit in this category. The somewhat larger presence of tribals in the council of ministers – 13% of the berths compared to just 6% when UPA-2 was sworn in – should not come as a surprise. Of the 47 ST-reserved seats in the Lok Sabha, BJP won 26 and its allies another two.

What is a bit of a surprise is the really low representation of dalits. With just three is the entire council, they have a mere 7% of berths, compared to a share of about 15-16% in the country’s population. And it is not as if BJP or NDA did badly in SC-reserved seats. Of the 87 such Lok Sabha constituencies, BJP alone won 40 and its allies like Shiv Sena, LJP and TDP won another nine.

Even within OBCs, powerful castes like the Jats, Gurjars, Yadavs and Kammas are dominant in the ministerial berths, though MBCs like Kushwahas are also represented.

Comments are closed.