Are the ‘Warrior’ or ‘Martial’ Classes Turning Against Modi?

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Are the ‘Warrior’ or ‘Martial’ Classes Turning Against Modi?

The ‘warrior’ communities all over north India – the Rajputs, Sikhs, Jats, Bhils, Pasis and those among Muslims – are splitting from the BJP.


It seems that the world has come full circle. In a recent election rally in Ghaziabad, Mayawati openly supported the Kshtariya community. Mayawati has, over the years, developed an anti-Thakur image, and between the two upper castes, she gave Brahmins more opportunities in her party.

But all that seems to be changing as even the BSP has given five tickets to Thakurs for the elections.

After the recent protests by the Rajput – aka Thakur – community on the step-brotherly treatment given to their community by the BJP, many political leaders from Akhilesh Yadav to Mayawati all are embracing the disgruntled community.

The reason is quite obvious, as after Muslims and Dalits, the Rajputs are the third largest voter base in western UP.

Ghaziabad, Saharanpur, Meerut, Kairana, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat and Aligarh all have substantial numbers of Rajputs living here, yet Modi has hardly given any tickets to candidates from the community.

This miscalculation could very well upset the BJP’s election formula. And if Thakurs turn against the BJP, areas in places ranging from Gujarat to the Bihar-Bengal border could spell trouble for Modi 3.0. There are already reports from Gujarat, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh that Thakurs may become the first chink in Modi’s armour.

Constituencies like Allahabad in eastern UP are clearly seeing Thakurs openly supporting a non-Brahmin candidate, as because of the Brahminical hegemony created over the last ten years, little to no development work has been done by the concerned members of parliament.

But the Thakurs are not alone. The two other prominent “warrior” classes, the Sikhs and the Jats, both appear to have their own problems with Modi. We begin with Sikhs.


First of all, Sikhs are spread from Punjab to the Nepal border in UP in concentrated pockets. They have considerable influence economically and a well-oiled social system.

Sikhs are largely agrarian and over time have had an electoral say outside Punjab too.

When Modi 1.0 came to power, they had built alliances with Sikh parties and the larger community on the anti-Sikh riot platform, promising to bring justice for the Sikh community. Many Sikh factions allied with Modi on an anti-Congress platform and hoped that Modi would bring some culprits to justice.

But then the Indian farmers’ movement started, and both Sikhs and farmers were ostracised and called “Khalistanis” and “terrorists”.

The Lakhimpur Kheri incident has shifted a larger number of Sikhs away from Modi too, especially as Ajay Teni has been given a ticket once again. This also exposes the deep cracks in the Modi government’s honesty and “poor-friendly” image.

Due to the government’s attack on the community, there is a deep repulsion toward the Hindutva ideology, while polarisation along the lines of identity has become more strict. It may be the case that Sikhs from the Wagah border to Lakhimpur Kheri may all vote against Modi.

In Punjab, the situation is more drastic as the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP, under pressure from the Sikhs, have had to break ties and scuttle any prospects for jointly winning elections.


Now the Jats represent a special case. From being early supporters of Modi, the Jats have come around too. This started in 2016, when the Jats reiterated their demand for reservations, hoping to be beneficiaries of the affirmative action program. But this was denied to them and the community at large was violently suppressed.

When election storms were raging, Jats were sold fake promises by the BJP. From doubling farming incomes and providing reservations to sugarcane prices, the community at large was lied to on all counts.

The BJP also attempted to break into the khap panchayats and install their representatives in them.

Haryana’s Jat community has also been very touchy on the issue of the appointment of Manohar Lal Khattar as chief minister.

After the BJP and Jannayak Janata Party came to power, Haryana expected a Jat as the leader of the house. But the Modi government decided to install the non-Jat, Punjabi Khattar as chief minister. This created social tension within the community.

Now if we look at UP, polarisation was fomented during the elections – hence, Muzaffarnagar was a hotbed of communal violence and witnessed the communal riots in 2013, leading to many deaths and the loss of property. The aftermath destroyed harmony between Hindus and Muslims.

It took some time for the communities to heal and bring relations back on track; nevertheless the riots left a sour taste against communal leaders.

Two other prominent warrior communities, the Bhils and Pasis, seem to be getting over the Hindutva agenda.

Bhils and Pasis

The Bhils are famously remembered for standing by Maharana Pratap even after his Rajput community was siding with the Mughals. They also have considerable influence in various parts of Rajasthan, including Banswara, Udaipur and Dungarpur.

They are trying to counter the sangh parivar and the idea of a nationalistic tribal identity with their own ‘Adivasi parivar’ ideology. The Adivasi Rana Punja Bhil also represents a new cultural icon to rally the community in an attempt to counter the sangh parivar’s attempt to overtake their history.

The last on the list is the Pasi community. They have been classified by the British in a negative light, but they were actually a war-like people with a kingdom in the 11th and 12th century in regions of north India.

The BJP has been actively trying to persuade them, but it seems the Pasi community is already moving away. The Kurmi caste group is already in the same boat.

Warrior people among the Muslims – like Khans, Pathans, etc. – are already actively campaigning against Modi and one doesn’t expect more than 1% of their vote to be cast in the BJP’s favour.

The overall conclusion is, the warrior communities all over north India are splitting from the BJP; how much dent they will cause, we will find out in the next couple of months.


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