In UP’s Bundelkhand, caste politics over water could see Dalit anger translate into voting behaviour on Monday

The lanes became narrower and filthier toward Kainthi village’s Harijan Basti. Harijan, a term coined by Mahatma Gandhi to refer to the untouchables or lower castes, also known as Dalits, and basti meaning a colony. The term was deemed derogatory and patronising and was replaced with Dalit — although it is not an official term and not accepted by many in and out of the community — but in villages in India, such changes mean nothing. In Bundelkhand, for example, all villages are segregated into upper cast and lower caste sections. There’s a queue outside the only tap in Kaithi’s Harijan Basti. Men in towels and vests sit patiently waiting for the queue to move, for their turn at the tap. Prabhu Dayal, a 24-year-old, is waiting, too, chewing at the stem of a neem tree disinterestedly.


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