Bharatiya Tribal Party queers pitch in Rajasthan

The main reason – in its first contest during assembly elections in December last year, the BTP won two of the 11 seats it contested.

BCCL
The biggest election issue in the tribal belt is a February 13 Supreme Court order that ordered the eviction of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers.
UDAIPUR | DUNGARPUR: The tribal dominated Mewar region in Rajasthan is set to witness a curious fight in the crucial 2019 parliamentary elections. In Udaipur and Dungarpur districts, tribals are openly talking about their rights, neglected for decade, and the two main political parties are feeling the heat.

“Na Lok Sabha na Vidhan Sabha, Sabse Oonchi Gram Sabha” (Neither Lok Sabha nor Vidhan Sabha, but Gram Sabha is supreme) — reads a slogan on the wall of a kutcha house in Kherwara village, about 80 kilometres from Udaipur.

This is not just another slogan on the wall. It underlines the influence of fledgling Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) which is queering the political pitch in the largely bipolar polity of Rajasthan. Though independents and parties like the BSP have often played spoilsport, BTP is now being taken seriously. The main reason – in its first contest during assembly elections in December last year, the BTP won two of the 11 seats it contested. In the third seat — Aspur in Udaipur parliamentary segment — the party lost by a very slim margin.


Buoyed by the success in the assembly polls, BTP is contesting in four parliamentary seats – Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Banswara-Dungarpur and Jodhpur. “Both Congress and BJP are openly saying that BTP is supporting them. This shows that for the first time we tribals have made the parties nervous,” says Gota Ram, who runs a shop near Kherwara.

BTP state president Velaram Ghoghra says: “We are not in alliance with any party. There is a reason behind BTP’s emergence – in our candidates winning two Assembly seats and almost winning the third. Neither Congress nor the BJP has done anything for the tribals in this belt.”

The biggest election issue in the tribal belt is a February 13 Supreme Court order that ordered the eviction of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims had been rejected under the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
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Although the interim order was stayed by the court after the intervention of the ministry of tribal affairs, the general impression among tribals is that the BJP government at the Centre has not done enough to represent the facts before the court.

BTP seems to have tapped into this sentiment. It has also made last year’s Supreme Court order, which banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, an election issue.
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