In the current Jharkhand assembly election, BJP could not get success. On analysis of this week’s election outcome in Jharkhand, it became very clear that they are not reaching up to the expectation of tribes. This became very prominent by the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won only two of the 28 seats reserved for scheduled tribes (STs), this clearly reinforced a perception that tribespeople is skidding away from the party’s fold in a setback to its goal of expanding their social base. In 2014, the party had won 11 of the ST seats.
Similarly happened in tribal-dominated areas in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where assembly polls were held in November 2018, the party lost most of the seats reserved for STs. In Chhattisgarh, the BJP won only three of the 29 seats reserved for tribes, down from an earlier 13. In Madhya Pradesh, it won 16 of the 47 tribal seats, compared to 31 in 2013.
In all the election results had evidently shown that tribal voters have followed their counterparts in neighboring Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in both states, the BJP was voted out of power after being at the controls for 15 years on the run. Both states voted for their local representative alliance with Congress.
In Jharkhand, there exists a three-party coalition of the government Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) won power with 47 seats in the 81 member assembly.
In Jharkhand, the main reason for the distancing of tribal people from the BJP was seen to be an attempt by the Raghubar Das government to get hold of tribal land through alteration to two British-era occupancy regulations; Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act and Chotanagpur Tenancy Act. Das being a non-tribal, unlike his predecessors, didn’t serve the BJP’s cause.
The opposition alliance led by JMM promised the return of tribal lands and higher paddy procurement prices on the lines of neighboring Chhattisgarh. In 2011, 26% of Jharkhand’s population is of tribes and in Chhattisgarh, it accounted for 31%.
Though the assessment was made on the basis of tribes BJP leader and spokesperson Sudesh Verma denied that the BJP had lost due to the tribal belt. It cannot be assumed so; rather we have lost our presence in the tribal belt. If we see the support base, we have gained support even in Jharkhand. In Santhal Pargana, which is again the tribal belt, we have won good seats, although not won that many seats, if our votes are seen, it is quite considerable. We expected to do a lot many things in Santhal Pargana because we have already done a lot of work there.
The BJP leader said that in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP confronted anti-incumbency after having ruled the states for three consecutive terms. In Madhya Pradesh, we have lost only by few votes (in the tribal belt). In Chhattisgarh, yes, we lost considerably. It was largely because of the exhaustion of voters, who wanted change.
In these three states, we will be coming back stronger and with a greater presence said by Sudesh Verma. The BJP leader said rival parties coming to power in these states had not benefitted the people of tribes earlier also.
Everybody knows that development suffered. When one gives development, tribals gain and develop confidence. In Jharkhand, when other parties got a chance they had always indulged in corruption. We all are aware that Congress installed Madhu Koda and led to zero development and was a corrupt government. BJP gave a non-corrupt government and good governance. Although champions write their own history, if we look closer, we are very much there said by Verma.
If, we talk about Odisha another state having a sizeable tribal vote which is ruled by BJP, under Jual Oram guidance has made rapid progress. Yet, with the Navin Pattnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) maintaining a firm grip on power.
There are other states like Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura in the northeast where tribal people are in a majority and BJP is running the platform. Even in Gujarat, tribals comprise a sizeable 15 % of the population.
We don’t stand only with the name BJP, but even our ideology counts, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), has also consistently focused on engaging with the tribal segment of the population through its organization Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.
Pramod Petkar of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram said the aim of the organization was to develop a lot of tribal sections and make sure to safeguard their rights and access to education and employment. RSS “work continues regardless of who is in power said by Verma.