Kammas, a dominant farmer caste not only in Telugu speaking states Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, but also in some parts of bordering states of Tamilnadu and Karnataka, have played a momentous role in the development and progress of those societies historically.
According to a survey conducted before bifurcation of AP, Kammas constituted just 4.8% of total populace. Despite being a minority in numbers, Kammas for decades have manifested their prowess and have scripted 1000s of success stories in various fields encompassing agriculture, business, trading, film industry, information technology, horticulture, politics and every relevant field. .
Predominantly present in Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Anantapuram and to an extent in twin Godavari districts, Chittoor, Nellore, and Kurnool districts, Kammas role is like hub in village eco-systems co-living with other castes in a healthy ambience. The control that Kammas enjoyed on agrarian resources like land and water made them enjoy the political and economic power in their geographies. But Kammas didn’t aspire or strive for top leadership positions in state or central politics. They accepted if they came in their way. The political scene in Andhra Pradesh was totally dominated by one community Reddys and one party Congress. Though Kammas for their sizeable land holdings and influence in village and other local political bodies, played a key role in district level politics, at the state level it was very limited. Except for a few stalwarts like Shri Kakani Venkataratnam, Dandamudi Rajagopal Naidu, Acharya N G Ranga, Kalluri Chandra Mouli and others, Kammas as a community like Reddys couldn’t dominate the space at higher levels. For instance since AP got separated from Madras in 1956 and went to election as an independent state, until Telugu Desam Party came to power in 1983, Congress continuously ruled AP and out of 10 Chief Ministers between November, 1956 and January, 1983 leaders from Reddy community became Chief Ministers 6 times.
Nevertheless, scenario changed from early 80s when the king of Telugu Silver Screen of that period Late Shri Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao (NTR) decided to foray into direct politics and fight against Congress. NTR is a Kamma and one of the top heroes in terms of fans associations in India. NTR after an indomitable and stupendous filmy career took a break to serve public. This decision in his 60s shook entire state and within 6 months of announcing the party, Telugu Desam Party, he swept the election and became Chief Minister, first from Kamma community. And what followed was an open political story known to everyone. Here lies the crux. Before formation of TDP and NTR becoming CM, Kamma Community was not very much a focal point or rather a target among other communities. With TDP coming to power its political rival Congress party tried several tactics to unseat NTR from power including usurping of power in an undemocratic way, propping up differences among castes in coastal belt, stirring up religious violence in capital city, Hyderabad, and several other deceitful plots. Apart from above devious stratagems, the Congress Party resorted to a few surreptitious and underhanded mechanisms and one among them is to create hatred on Kamma community in other castes. Though it started immediately after TDP coming to power, this crooked mechanism intensified and the ramifications proliferated with the advent of Internet and Social Media in mid 90s. Fight for separate Telangana built-up and deepened the efforts to isolate Kammas from Telangana society showing them as stumbling blocks in the process of obtaining special state. We could say that Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) which lead the struggle for separate Telangana fairly succeeded in creating bitterness and animosity among Telangana public towards Kammas. Surprisingly this venomous attack didn’t seize even after the separation of Telangana in 2014 but continued by a new political unit and this time it is YSR Congress Party. But deadly and malicious attack conducted by YCP is fateful. First it was Congress Party followed by TRS and YCP. It was not only the entities, but also the agendas which are entirely different that drove this spiteful agenda. To understand the agendas and the consequences of this silent attack on Kamma Community, we shall probe in Part II of this article.