BJP, Congress out to woo tribal voters in Madhya Pradesh

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BJP, Congress out to woo tribal voters in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh : Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are out to woo the tribals, who comprise one-faifth of the population of Madhya Pradesh, and would see some of their prominent leaders in Jabalpur on September 18.Gonds celebrate the day as BalidanDiwas every year in the memory of Gond king Shankar Shah and his son KunwarRaghunath Shah for their contribution during the 1857 mutiny against the British. This year, the BJP has decided to go big and honour prominent tribal leaders and social workers, and Union home minister Amit Shah will attend the programme.

The Congress function will be addressed by former chief minister Digvijaya Singh. The party has already launched multiple events even as it accuses the BJP government in the state of “tormenting” the tribals.

Rakesh Singh, Member of Parliament of BJP from Jabalpur, said the home minister would address tribals on the day and would also meet their leaders and members of different tribal organisation under ‘JanjatiyaSamajJodoAbhiyan’ to discuss their problems.

“This is part of the BJP exercise to increase outreach among the tribals and tell them how the Congress has cheated them for decades,” he said.

Tribals have 47 seats reserved for them. In 2018 assembly polls, the Congress won 30 of these seats. Political experts say tribals have influence over 78 seats and the Congress returning to power in 2018 was primarily because of its good performance in these seats.

Bhopal-based political analyst Girija Shankar said about Shah’s interaction with tribal leaders, “The BJP is trying to regain control over the tribal belt, especially the Gonds, which are the majority among tribals in the state.”

On its part, the Congress, which has started an Adiwasi Jan AdhikarYatra on Monday to target the state government over recent crime incidents in tribal areas, will also organised a bike rally on September 18 to pay tribute to the Gond king. Digvijaya Singh will participate in the rally, party leaders said.MP Congress president Kamal Nath said, “Congress will fight for rights of tribal in MP. The BJP-led state government is working to suppress the tribals.”Tribals are a suppressed lot. According to National Crime Records Bureau, the highest number of cases of atrocities against tribals in 2019 were reported from MP and 23 % of cases of rape of tribal women in the country were from the state. Recently, in Nemawar in Dewas district, five members of a family of tribal community was killed and buried while in Neemuch, a 45-year-old tribal man died after being thrashed, and then tied to a moving mini-truck.Experts point out that the two national parties should be alert to the emergence of Jai AdiwasiYuvaSangathan (JAYS), a social organisation working for tribals, in the past four years. In 2018 assembly polls, JAYS leader HeeralalAlawa contested as a Congress candidate from Manawar and won by a good margin.

A rally in Jobat on World Indigenous Day recently attracted at least 5,000 people, the local administration said, while initiating action against JAYS for violating Covid protocol.