Community members have decided to stay away from the election

The panchayat election brings to the fore the controversy over the status of the Nayaka community in Kamavarapukota village in West Godavari district. The caste members have decided to stay away from the election under the banner of the Komaram Bheem Nayaka Kulastula Sangham as part of highlighting their demand for ST status.

The panchayat with 13,600 voters is reserved for the Scheduled Tribes. It is predominantly inhabited by the Yerukala and Yanadi communities, which are enjoying the official status as ST, and Nayaka caste. The Nayaka caste alone accounts for 895 voters in the total electorate. Lakshmaiah, a local scribe belonging to the Nayaka community said his caste people failed to hold the sarpanch post in the current elections with the alleged denial of ST caste certificates by the mandal election authorities. Claiming that the Nayaka caste members enjoyed the ST status till 2001 in education and government jobs, Mr. Lakshmaiah said the authorities had allegedly stopped issuing the ST caste certificates for the Nayaka community members since then for unknown reasons.

Mandal Election Officer J. Madanagopal clarified that the Nayaka community did not come under the ST category as per the government records.

Interestingly, Nayakas are reportedly living in Kondagudem, a hamlet of the Kamavarapukota gram panchayat alone in the entire district. The Directorate of Tribal Welfare has deputed a team of officials in September last year to examine the plea of the Nayakas for ST status. The team, after going into the culture, lifestyle, economic and social conditions and anthropological aspects of the community, concluded that it came under the BC (A) category along with Bhojanayaka and Bhoja Valmiki castes. The Directorate of Tribal Welfare issued a GO accordingly, legitimising the findings of the committee.

Mr. Prabhakar stated that the Naik (Lambada) tribe was different from the Nayaka community and that one should not get confused over the two different nomenclatures. It may be recalled that members of another community named Nayakapodu present in areas on the Khammam district borders have been struggling for an ST status for several years.

It is ironic that the community in the neighbouring Khammam district is regarded as ST while the same community in West Godavari district has come under BC category.