Jharkhand mandate: Is BJP losing its magic touch in tribal areas? – analysis
After having swept the state in Lok Sabha, the loss of Jharkhand Assembly elections is likely to hurt the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a key province dominated by the tribal section of the population has slipped out of its fold.
Jharkhand has followed the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh where too the BJP was voted out of power in the state Assembly after having ruled the state for 15 years on a trot. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress had won a nearly three-fourths majority.
In this backdrop, the BJP would have liked to get back strongly in Jharkhand. However, faced with massive infighting and struggling for tribal support, it couldn’t even emerge as the single largest party.
That Chief Minister Raghubar Das was not a tribal, unlike all his predecessors, was another fact that did not prove to be helpful.
Significantly, both states were created by the BJP which also went on to dominate the politics in this region.
The trend, however, was not just limited to these two states as even in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, the BJP candidates had found the going tough. The party could win only a third of the over 40 seats with a significant tribal population in 2018. In the previous state polls, the BJP had clinched a majority of them.
Significantly, Odisha is another state with a sizeable tribal vote where the BJP, with Jual Oram at the helm, has made rapid strides in terms of vote share. But with the Navin Pattnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) maintaining a firm grip on power, the saffron party has had to remain content with being second best.
Not just the BJP, even its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has also consistently focused on engaging with the tribal segment of the population.
The RSS, through its organization Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, has actively engaged with tribal population across states.
When contacted, Pramod Petkar, the Prachar Pramukh of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, however, said the aim of his organisation was primary welfare, protection of rights and addressing issues like providing employment and education to the tribal section of the society.
There can be times when an associated person may take part in the electoral process but that is in their personal capacity as a citizen, he said.
“Our work continues regardless of who is in power,” he said though adding that it is always beneficial if the people at the helm are working without any bias.