Jharkhand political parties tussle over Adivasi votes

File photo: IANS

Ranchi (IANS) Assembly elections in Jharkhand are going to be held at the end of this year and all the political parties in the state have gone into election mode with each devising plans to woo the electorate. At the centre of the tussle is the large tribal population, which every party is aiming to get to its side.

The state has 81 Assembly seats out of which 28 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. In the 2014 Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) got 13 seats each. This close fight between the two in 2014 has become all the more cut throat as the state heads to elections. Besides the BJP and JMM, this time the Congress too is wooing the community for votes.

"The state has 26 per cent tribal population. Muslim votes are dispersed all across. That is the reason everyone is pushing for the tribal bloc," said senior journalist Yogesh Kislay.

For the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the poll bugle on Thursday in Ranchi. One of the important decisions taken by the BJP government to target the tribal community is the opening of 462 Eklavya Model Schools across the country, of which 69 will be established in 13 of Jharkhand's 24 districts.

In his second term at the Centre, Modi inducted Arjun Munda into the cabinet to give the message that the government is keen to work for the upliftment of the tribal population. Munda is enthusiastic about the Eklavya schools. He said that these schools will be established in areas with 50 per cent tribal population or in places where the tribal population is above 20,000.

"We are not working on the caste, tribe or religion level. Our motto is 'sabka saath-sabka vikas'. We are working on the development plank," said BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdev.

The Congress is banking on its state party president Ramesh Oraon, a tribal leader himself, who the party believes already has a base among the tribals.

The JMM, on the other hand, projects itself as the party of the tribals. It is holding a "badlav yatra" in the state and seeks to woo the electorate.

"After the formation of the state, Adivasis have always gone with JMM. Shibu Soren is the undisputed Adivasi leader. Other parties are trying to woo the Adivasis, but it will be very difficult for them to wean them away from us," said JMM spokesperson Manoj Pandey.

The JMM might be confident about its support base, but Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das is going to start his campaign on September 15 from Santhal with an 'ashirwad yatra'. This area is considered a JMM stronghold.

With all the parties making plans to woo the tribal population, the fight for getting this sizable vote share is going to intensify in this poll season in Jahrkhand.

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