Ruckus over Sharad Pawar’s caste, know from history to geography of Kunbi caste

To resolve the demand of reservation of Maratha community in Maharashtra, Shinde government is making a move to give caste certificate to Kunbi caste, for which OBC leaders are not in favour. In such a situation, on the day of Diwali, a caste certificate of NCP chief Sharad Pawar is going viral, in which he has been declared as Kunbi caste (OBC). NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that no one’s caste can be hidden. There is a conspiracy to defame and create conflict between two communities by issuing fake caste certificates.

NCP released the school leaving certificate of Sharad Pawar stating that his caste is Maratha and he never took the certificate of Kunbi caste. In such a situation, the question arises that who is the Kunbi caste in Maharashtra, over which a political battle is being fought. What is the history and geography of Kunbi caste and how powerful are they in the politics of Maharashtra?

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Let us tell you that the Maratha community has been demanding reservation for a long time. Recently, Manoj Jarange had sat on a fast regarding Maratha reservation and had even given up food and water. In such a situation, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had announced that caste certificates would be provided to those people who have documents to prove that they are Kunbi. The farming community in Maharashtra is called Kunbi and comes under OBC. In this way Shinde has come out with the formula for Maratha reservation, but the OBC community does not agree with this.

People of Kunbi caste in these states of the country

The word Kunbi means farming class or caste. However, Kunbi is a term used for elite peasant castes in the states of western India. People of Kunbi caste are present in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, northern part of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala. In some parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Kunbi is known as Arya Kapu, while in the states of North India, they are seen as Kurmi community.

In Maharashtra, people of Kunbi community come under Other Backward Class. In the year 1967, Kunbi caste was recognized as OBC in Maharashtra. Kunbi caste is divided into many sub-castes, which are identified as Dhonoje, Ghatole, Jatav, Hindre, Jhare, Khaire, Leva, Tirole. However, people of Kunbi caste are also landlords. The dynasties are also believed to be of Kunbi origin, including Shinde and Gaekwad.

History of Kunbi community

Most of the Mavals who served in the armies of the Maratha Empire under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj came from this community. People of Shinde and Gaekwad dynasty of Maratha Empire are also originally from this place. In the 14th century and thereafter, many Kunbis served as soldiers in the armies of various rulers. During the Nizam rule, the Maratha community was included as Kunbi caste. Marathas including Jarange say that till the end of Nizam’s rule in September 1948, the Maratha community was considered Kunbi and they were OBC.

Kunbi caste is made up of two words, which are made up of Kun and Bi. Kun means ‘people’ and Bi means ‘seed’. Another argument is that Kunbi comes from the Marathi word Kunbāva or Sanskrit कुर, meaning ‘agricultural ploughing’. Apart from this, Kunbi Kutumba (family), or Dravidian clan, is descended from husbandmen or farmers. Thus anyone who takes up the profession of farming can be brought under the general term Kunbi. At the same time, the Maratha community mainly consists of farmers and landlord groups and constitutes about one-third of the population in Maharashtra.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the identities of Kunbi and Maratha started being considered separate, but then Marathas started calling them Kunbi. Marriages between Maratha and Kunbi are common and the cultures are also similar. However, in Maharashtra, Marathas come under general category while Kunbis are included in OBC. Kunbis are present in large numbers in the western part and central region of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Kunbi are also well established in the areas of Nagpur, Bhandara, Akola and Amravati. In this way, the total Kunbi castes live in different geographical areas of Maharashtra.

Kunbi caste people are traditional voters of BJP

Politically, people of Kunbi caste in Maharashtra are considered traditional voters of BJP. BJP has been successful in establishing its roots in Maharashtra through OBCs in the state. At the same time, Maratha community has been considered the vote bank of Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena. Maratha vote plays a decisive role, due to which it is difficult for any party to ignore them. Eknath Shinde himself comes from Maratha community and to solve the Maratha reservation problem, he has found a way to give certificates from Kunbi caste.

CM Shinde said that 11530 old documents have been found, in which Kunbi caste is mentioned. He said that those who have proof of Kunbi caste will be immediately given OBC certificates. Shinde has given two formulas to solve Maratha reservation. First through Kunbi certificate letter and second through curative petition in the Supreme Court. Due to giving Maratha certificate to Kunbi caste, there is a danger of angering BJP’s strong OBC base.

In September 2023, the Shinde government had tried to provide OBC reservation benefits to Marathas by giving them Kunbi caste certificate, but this did not cool down the demand for Maratha reservation. On the contrary, the OBC community in Vidarbha area was enraged. OBC leaders of BJP and Congress were involved in this demonstration. Now once again NCP leader of Ajit Pawar faction Chhagan Bhujbal has called a rally of OBC leaders on November 17, in which Maratha reservation is being considered against giving certificates of Kunbi caste. In this way, instead of decreasing, the politics of reservation in Maharashtra is increasing.

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