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This chapter charts the history of organizational politics of Dalits in Telugu-speaking areas of the nizam’s territory and the Madras presidency, which predates Ambedkar’s movement. It exemplifies the history of Dalit organizations, such as the Adi-Andhra Mahajana Sabha in the coastal Andhra region, and their activities in Hyderabad under the leadership of Bhagya Reddy Varma. Dalit articulations structurally and ideologically transformed the country’s political and intellectual landscape, especially anticolonial nationalism. Unlike in other parts of India, in Hyderabad the Dalits relied on caste Hindu reformers, especially Brahmans, for political support and articulated Hindu reformist ideas for the emancipation of their brethren. Thus the chapter argues that the ideological influence of reformist Hindus in the Telugu public sphere helped the Dalits secure a space in the mainstream nationalist movement. Yet it may also have limited their political and ideological visions and led to multiple ambiguities and their eventual invisibility.

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