Interview: Manda Krishna Madiga on why he claims Modi is the saviour of Madigas

Krishna Madiga says he is campaigning for the BJP, assured that Modi will make the Madiga dream come true.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Apr 10, 2024 | 7:21 PMUpdatedApr 10, 2024 | 7:48 PM

Manda Krishna Madiga

Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS) founder president Manda Krishna Madiga needs no introduction in Telangana.

He is the lone warrior fighting for the categorization of the Scheduled Castes for decades. He began his movement in 1994 and has relentlessly fought for the cause ever since.

In his long journey, Krishna Madiga has seen several ups and downs. He now believes that his journey is nearing its end.

He is convinced Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only saviour of Madigas. Now, he is campaigning for the BJP, assured that Modi will make the Madiga dream come true.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q. Why do you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do justice to Madigas, which has eluded them for decades?

A. Please tell me why he should attend our Viswaaroopaam meeting and speak about categorization in Secunderabad on 11 November 2023. Has it ever happened in Indian history? He came and promised that a committee would be constituted to investigate the issue. He kept his word by forming a five-member committee of secretaries chaired by the cabinet secretary. He also had the government support categorization in the Supreme Court.

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Q. Do you think Modi is genuinely committed to the cause?

A. For us, Madigas, categorization matters most. It takes precedence over everything else. This is what we have been fighting for. Now comes Narendra Modi, matching his words with deeds. He shows commitment to our cause. We have been at the receiving end for a very long time, and we do not feel that way anymore.

Q. Isn’t it a fact that TDP gave a lift to the Madigas in Telangana?

A. Yes. Initially, all SCs, including Madigas, were with Congress. However, it did nothing for them. Only after TDP came to power things began changing for the better. NTR, after founding his party, Telugu Desam, in 1983, declared in his party manifesto that improving the living standards of Arundhatis was his first priority.

Accordingly, he took several Madigas into his government. He took Puttapaga Mahendranath of Mahbubnagar district into his Cabinet and allotted him the most crucial portfolio: Finance. However, at the ground level, not much changed for the Madigas.

After N Chandrababu Naidu took over from NTR, the Madigas had a much better life. They realized that Naidu was trying to improve their living conditions. He had done a lot for them until he demitted office in 2004.

The TDP rule under Naidu marked the golden era for Madigas. He categorized the SCs. After categorization, about 22,000 to 25,000 Madigas got jobs, and thousands got seats in educational institutions. Even the AP High Court held that the state had the right to categorize SCs.

However, the gravy train came to a grinding halt when the Supreme Court on 5 November 2004 ruled that the states had no right to categorize SCs. Strangely, on 27 August 2020, the same court ruled that the states had the power but suggested that a seven-member bench deal with it.

That was because the previous two benches comprised five judges each and reached different verdicts. Accordingly, Chief Justice of India YV Chandrachud’s seven-member bench held hearings on February 6, 7, and 8. As Modi had promised, the Centre argued in favour of categorization. Now, tell me whether Modi is committed to categorization.

Also read: Subcategorization in court

Q. Isn’t it a fact that tangible action, like the constitution of the Usha Mehra Committee, took place under the UPA for categorization?

A. I want to clarify certain issues here. The Usha Mehra Committee was constituted under UPA-I between 2004 and 09. It submitted its report before UPA-I demitted office. The UPA came to power again and was in the saddle between 2009 and 14, but it did not act on the committee report. The BJP also did not attend to it during its 10-year role, but it is now showing interest and providing proof of its commitment to the cause.

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Q. How can you trust Modi when Dalit ideology clashes with the Manuvada, which is perceived to be running in the blood of all the BJP ideologues?

A. Let us compare to show who is more pro-Dalit and marginalized because Manuvada is portrayed as anti-Dalit and anti-women. When the UPA was in power, elections took place twice for the office of the president of India. It sent Brahmins Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil to the high office.

Contrast this with what happened during the BJP’s tenure. It sent Ramnath Kovind, a Dalit, to Rashtrpati Bhavan. Then, it picked up a tribal woman, Droupadi Murmu, who comes from a village in thick woods without a power supply. Now, tell me who is committed to the disadvantaged and underprivileged sections.

If Modi or, for that matter, the BJP, was not favourably disposed towards women or Dalits, why should it send Kovind and Murmu to Rashtrapati Bhavan, and why should it make the Women’s Reservation Bill legislation? Sonia Gandhi, though a woman, did not turn the bill into an Act, though she had been calling the shots for ten long years.

Also read: Rumblings of discontent

Q. You may have a strong argument favouring the BJP, but do the Madigas subscribe to your thinking? Don’t you think they believe that the Saffron party is outright anti-Dalit?

A. When MRPS takes a stand on an issue, it becomes a point of discussion at the ground level. Our Madiga brethren are discussing how the BJP is going to their rescue now. I am telling them to see the reason for supporting the BJP because it shows some action and is not confined to lip sympathy as the leaders of the Congress did in the past. The message goes to the Madigas, who also consider whether their original opinion about the BJP was misplaced.

Also read: BRS ticket for Praveen Kumar

Q. Why do you brand the Congress and the BRS as your enemies?

A. Leave aside categorization, about which I have already said a lot. Take, for instance, the recent Lok Sabha elections. There are three seats in Telangana reserved for the SCs. Madigas are about 70 to 75 percent of the SCs in the state. That means we should get two of the three seats. But Congress nominated Malas for two seats, and the remaining seat was a non-Madiga–Bandla. Even for the by-election to the Secunderabad Cantonment Assembly seat, the Congress has nominated a Mala–N Sri Ganesh. How can we trust Congress to take care of our interests?

The BRS is no better. It has declared candidates for two of the three seats. The two seats—Nagarkunool and Peddapally—went to the Malas—RS Praveen Kumar and Koppula Eeswar. Even for Warnagal, the BRS first nominated a non-Madiga, Kadiam Srihari’s daughter Kavya, but she is now in Congress. The BJP, on the other hand, has allotted two seats to Madigas—Aroori Ramesh for Warangal and P Ramulu’s son Bharat for Nagarkurnool.