In Rajasthan’s tribal region, a new political organization led by tribal leaders has thrown down the gauntlet to the BJP and the Congress, forcing senior leaders of the two national parties to make frequent visits in an effort to shore up support before the assembly elections.
In an effort to strengthen the support bases for respective political parties, leaders from both the Congress and the Indian government, including Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have made a number of trips to the tribal area.
Rajasthan will hold elections for its legislature later this year.
Modi will speak at a public gathering while in the mostly tribal Chittorgarh area on Monday.
Satish Poonia, the BJP’s state unit leader, focused on the area and made several trips to the tribal regions while serving as deputy leader of the opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly.
Brahmin-looking CP Joshi, his successor, represents the party in the Lok Sabha from Chittorgarh.
In the southeast of the state, Udaipur, Rajsamand, Chittorgarh, Sirohi, and Pali are partially tribal regions, while Banswara, Dungarpur, and Pratapgarh are entirely tribal districts.
Similar to the Gujarat-based Bharatiya Tribal Party, which gained two seats in the 2018 assembly elections, the new organization, the Bharatiya Adivasi Party, is led by young people.
The Bharatiya Tribal Party split completely as a result of its founding, with the majority of its followers and leaders defecting to the new group. MLAs Rajkumar Roat and Ramprasad Dindor, who won the 2018 elections on the platform of the Bharatiya Tribal Party, announced the foundation of the Bharatiya Adivasi Party in September.
Only a small number of leaders, such as Velaram Ghoghra, the head of the state unit, are still with the Bharatiya Tribal Party.
The new group is already pulling sizable numbers of tribe members to its meetings, demonstrating its clout in the area.
The Bharatiya Adivasi Party, according to local BJP officials, is now the dominant force in the tribal area.
“We have formed a new organization to work for the tribal people,” MLA Roat told PTI. Around 18 seats in the area will have Bharatiya Adivasi Party members running. He said that the Bharatiya Tribal Party broke because its philosophy, which had attracted him and many others ahead of the 2018 elections, was no longer followed.
“We will try to defeat both the Congress and the BJP,” he said.
According to Roat, the Bharatiya Adivasi Party won’t intervene in Gujarat if the Bharatiya Tribal Party stays out of the 17–18 seats where his party would run.
“We make a plea to all regional parties that because we all share the same goal, we should put aside our differences and work together. In Gujarat, we won’t meddle; we’ve instructed the Bharatiya Tribal Party not to meddle in the Rajasthan assembly elections.
“If they don’t take this into account, the party with a strong philosophy and a clear vision will win. The lawmaker from Chorasi in Dungarpur said, “Our goal is clear, our philosophy is strong, and we will move forward.
The establishment of the Bharatiya Adivasi Party is seen as a threat by the BJP as well.
Leaders of the saffron party think that in this area, where educated tribal youth affiliated with the Bharatiya Adivasi Party are proactive and mobilizing people in its favor, they cannot exclusively depend on anti-incumbency against the state administration.
The presence of the Congress in the area is in danger of disappearing. In the tribal belt, the Bharatiya Adivasi Party is in the lead, and the Congress will come in third, according to local BJP leader and former minister Sushil Katara.
He continued by saying that the Bharatiya Adivasi Party was taking advantage of tribal people’s sensitivities.
In the 2018 elections, Katara, who lost to Roat, said that the opposition party was “educated, active on social media, and mobilizing the tribal people in their favor.”
During the 2020 political crisis, which was brought on by a mutiny by his then-deputy Sachin Pilot, both Roat and Dindor had backed the Gehlot administration. In the Rajya Sabha elections, they had further backed the candidates for the Congress.
However, the head of the Rajasthan branch of the Bharatiya Tribal Party, Ghoghra, said that the tribal area had nothing to gain from it.
He attributed the party’s division to the “egoistic approach” of certain leaders, presumably alluding to Roat, Dindor, and their adherents.
“They may have announced a new party, but the Bharatiya Tribal Party will contest from more than 20 seats in Dungarpur, Banswara, Pratapgarh, Pali, and Barmer,” he stated.
He ascribed the Bharatiya Tribal Party’s influence to Modi, Gandhi, and other leaders’ regular trips to the area.
The tribal people “won’t vote for them no matter how hard they try,” he claimed.
However, a Congress politician from the Banswara district said that the state administration had worked to improve the area and predicted that the party would win the poll.
“A request to establish Mangarh Dham, a holy site for the tribal people of Banswara, as a national monument was recently approved by the chief minister. In August, he also promised $100 crore worth of development work at the “dham,” according to the Congress lawmaker.
According to local leaders, the main election topics will be economic possibilities, infrastructural development, and correct application of constitutional provisions with reference to the indigenous community.
The Vagad and Mewar areas, which make up Rajasthan’s tribal belt, have 37 assembly seats. The BJP owns 20 of these seats, the Congress 11, and three were won by independent candidates in the 2018 elections.
Since Gulab Chand Kataria, the incumbent MLA in Udaipur, was named governor of Assam earlier this year, one seat in that body is now empty. The other two representatives from the area in the House are Roat and Dindor.