In fact, at the village level they are, along with the Brahmins, the exploiters of Harijan labour. These cases have been able to utilise the “funds provided by the Central and State Governments to further their interests. They are powerful in the legislatures also.
With independence and adult suffrage, the dominant peasant castes became so powerful that all political parties had to come to terms with them. They were well represented in the State legislatures and cabinets. The introduction of ‘Panchayat Raj’ has made them to become powerful at the village, ‘tehsil’ and district levels.
Political power enhances the status of the individual and his group. Any political power can be translated into economic terms. It can determine the future of young men and women by obtaining for them right careers and well paid and prestigious jobs.
Each state consists of more than one dominant caste. Hence conflicts between them for political power are quite natural. The Kammas and Reddis of Andhra, the Vokkaligas and Lingayats of Karnataka, for example, are at a conflict. From the point of view of the non-dominant castes, the ‘dominant castes’ have monopolised most of the benefits available in the new system. Hence, they feel frustrated.
In Karnataka such non-dominant castes, prefer to call themselves ‘minor’ castes. They have been complaining about the “ruthless manner’ in which the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas have grabbed the facilities and concessions provided for the backward classes.
The dominant castes have developed a vested interest in remaining ‘backward’ since it helps them to enjoy the benefits of education and employment. They protest all attempts to take them out of the “other backward class” lists.
Hence various commissions (such as the Nagan Gowda Committee in Karnataka) have ventured to develop criteria to distinguish between “backward castes” and the “more backward castes”.
Today new tensions are evidenced between the “powerful backward castes” and “the weak backward castes” as well as the Scheduled Castes. There are new signs of these two latter groups joining together to fight against the domination of the “advanced backward castes.” Thus, a “new backward class’s movement” is now emerging.
During the first phase (say, from 1916 to 1969) the non-Brahmins together struggled to dislodge them from their advantageous position. In the second phase, the struggle of the “more backward non-Brahmins” is going on against the “more advanced non-Brahmins”.