Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh government has announced it will give only 5% reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) under the Centre’s 10% quota, setting aside the rest to the upper caste Kapus. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu made the announcement Tuesday.

“We had requested the Centre to extend 5% reservation to the Kapu community long ago but the BJP leaders did not agree. Now, out of the 10% reservation provided by the Centre to the economically weaker sections, we will give 5% to Kapus and the balance to the EWS,” the chief minister told his party leaders during a teleconference.

The Telugu Desam Party, ahead of the 2014 elections, had promised to include the Kapu community in the backward classes list and extend five per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions.

On 2 December 2017, the State government had moved a Bill in the Assembly seeking to provide 5% reservation to Kapus, including the three sub-castes.

The Bill was subsequently forwarded to the Centre seeking a Constitutional amendment to include Kapus in the backward classes list under Schedule IX and give validity to the quota since the five per cent proposed is over and above the stipulated 50% reservations for different sections of society.

The Centre did not accept the State’s plea on the ground that it violated the Supreme Court judgement on reservations.

Earlier, the Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Backward Classes had submitted a report recommending the reservation.

However, the Commission’s then Chairman Justice KL Manjunatha was not a signatory to the report while two other members had submitted it to the State government.
The Naidu government had since been claiming that it had honoured its promise on a reservation and blamed the Narendra Modi-led Centre for not approving the quota for Kapus.

Who are Kapus?

Kāpu is the Telugu for a cultivator or agriculturist. In the post-Kakatiya period, they branched off to separate communities where Velamas, Panta Kapus and Pakanati Kapus came to be known as Reddys while the Kapus of Kammanadu were called Kammas. Kamma happens to be Chief Minister Naidu’s caste.

Other Kapus continue to be known by their original last names. All Kapus have a common ancestry. Occupational identities transformed as caste labels in the late Vijayanagara period (17th century) or later.

While now the Kapus are being considered for 5% quota in education and jobs, they were considered a Shudra community in the traditional Hindu ritual ranking system known as Varna.

According to the analysis, the link to which appears above, the 1921 census of India led to a new caste classification where Kapus (including Reddys) comprised around 17% of the population of an undivided Andhra Pradesh. They began being regarded as a forward caste while Balija and Telaga remained backward castes, comprising 3% and 5% of the 1921 population, respectively.

The Reddys and Kammas are the politically dominant communities of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and that the Kapus are among a group with lesser but still significant influence, despite their small population. They are particularly effective in the districts of East Godavari and West Godavari, although sociologist-columnist of Economic and Political Weekly Srinivasulu notes that “The Kapus of the coastal districts are distinct from the Munnur Kapus of Telangana. While the former is fairly prosperous, the political emergence of the latter, who are part of the OBC category, is a recent phenomenon.”