25 October, 2020

How The Adivasi Goes To Vote

The battle for Gujarat’s 27 ST seats is just a blip in the daily struggle for survival of 15 per cent of the state’s electorate

Adivasis from Dang at a temporary ­settlement for migrant ­workers in a village near Bardoli
Photograph by Apoorva Salkade
How The Adivasi Goes To Vote

An interesting facet of the Gujarat assembly election has gone largely under the radar of the media—the adivasi electorate that comprises 15 per cent of the state’s population. Of the ­total 182 seats, 27 are reserved for the scheduled tribes, of which the ruling BJP won 11 in the last election. Fourteen of the reserved seats are in south and central Gujarat, which go to polls in the first phase, on Dec­ember 9. In these parts, most adivasis belong to the Bhil, Kunbi, Warli and Gamit communities. The battle for votes between the BJP and the opp­osition led by main rival Congress has brought some rare salience to the long-standing issues and ign­ored asp­irations of these communities, some of which they share with adivasis elsewhere in the country.

Prominent issues in the region range from general themes like implementation of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, aimed at empowering adivasi-dominated areas to protect their socio-cultural distinctiveness, affording a degree of autonomy, including over forest rights, to local, topical issues...



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