Jaati na pucho sadhu ki,puch lijiye gyan
mole karo talvar ka,pada renan do myan…
More than 600 years ago, Saint Kabir in his poetry ( doha) asked people not to ask for caste of a holy man, instead ask for his knowledge… always ask for price of sword, ignore the value of scabbard.
Unfortunately, people have learned nothing from wisdom of great saint. Narendra Modi has declared that he belongs to backward caste. But in cow belt i.e. UP and Bihar, merely calling yourself backward caste makes no sense. Finally his political rival Mayavati asked him to be more specific, not just exact caste, but its equivalent in UP and Bihar caste hierarchy. So far Modi has not declared his caste.
Wikipedia says that Modi belongs to Ganchi caste (i.e. oil pressers), their counterparts/equivalent in other states are called Telis.
Status of Telis in caste hierarchy varies from state to state. In some states they are extremely backward caste (esp. in Bihar) while in others they claim to be Vaishya (Traders) or Kshatriyas (Warriors). This ambiguity helps Modi to play caste card whenever it suits him.
In fact, Modi can play this caste card at international level. Telis are not confined to Hinduism. Teli caste has crossed religious barriers. Jews have subcaste called Shanvar Telis (Saturday oil pressers), so called because Jews did not work on Saturday ( Shabbat). There are Muslim Telis in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan they are called Teli Malik or Sheikh Mansuri. Telis are also found in Nepal and Bangladesh.
If Modi becomes next prime minister of India, I am sure he will play this caste card in his visits to Pakistan and Israel.