Caste outfit turns into political party in Andhra Pradesh

March 9th, 2009 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, March 9 (IANS) A caste outfit in Andhra Pradesh has transformed itself into a political party just a month before the assembly and Lok Sabha polls, adding to the political uncertainty in the state.
In what could be trouble for the ruling Congress party, the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), a group from a Scheduled Caste, has decided to enter the poll battle and join hands with ‘Mahakutami’ or the grand alliance of the opposition parties.

Peeved with the Congress party for the delay in categorisation within various Scheduled Castes for reservations, MRPS has decided to take on the ruling party by contesting the elections.

MRPS, which announced its decision Sunday, wants to contest 30 assembly and four Lok Sabha seats but it remains to be seen if the grand alliance led by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) agrees to this.

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Communist Pary of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) are the other constituents of the grand alliance. They are yet to reach a seat-sharing agreement.

MRPS, which represents Madigas, has long been fighting for categorisation among various Scheduled Castes so that they could enjoy the benefits of reservation in proportion to their population.

The outfit had last month stormed the assembly building to press for their demand. It also resorted to violence across the state and set fire to Gandhi Bhavan, the Congress party headquarters here, Feb 28, killing three people.

Madigas argue that Malas, another Scheduled Caste, were cornering the benefits of reservations despite being less in population. With around seven million people, Madigas are numerically the biggest group in the 12.3 million Dalit population in the state. Malas are estimated to number around four million.

MRPS leader Manda Krishna Madiga said the caste group, which supported TDP in the 1999 elections and Congress in 2004, wants to have its own representatives in legislative bodies to fight for their cause.

The entry of MRPS in politics will make the political situation in the state more fluid ahead of the next month’s elections to the 294-member state assembly and 42 Lok Sabha seats.

Praja Rajyam of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi is the third major contender for power after Congress and the TDP. The other parties in the fray include Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Lok Satta of former bureaucrat Jaiprakash Narayan.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, however, was confident that Madigas would remain with the Congress party as it made sincere efforts to bring a legislation for categorisation. He has promised that a constitutional amendment in this regard would be brought soon after the new parliament was constituted.

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