Why Did the Tribal Population of Jangalmahal Ditch the BJP?

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Unlike another constituencies in the Bengal polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva push didn’t show efficient amongst the tribal group primarily dominated by the Santhals and Kurmis in the Jangalmahal area that contains 40 meeting seats in Jhargram, West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.

The cause: in addition to many welfare issues which the tribal communities have been combating for over a long time, the recognition of Sarna Dharma (during which the forests and nature are thought-about sacred) is a vital subject in Jangalmahal. Leaders amongst the Santhal and Kurmi tribes alleged that they had been compelled to observe Hindu rituals as their demand to provide Sarna Dharma an official standing continues to be pending with the central authorities.

They alleged that they’ve been combating for this recognition for a number of years, however nothing has been carried out to this point. Members of these tribes additionally accused the BJP of attempting to push the Hindutva ideology.


After the May 2 outcomes revealed a ballot debacle for the BJP in Jangalmahal, the get together’s inside evaluation revealed {that a} majority of the Santhal vote share, which was its largest base in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had shifted to the Trinamool Congress this time.

The results of tribal folks shifting their allegiance from the BJP to TMC had been first felt in February when BJP nationwide president JP Nadda needed to cancel a public assembly in Jhargram primarily on account of a low turnout, sources say.

Similarly, union house minister Amit Shah additionally referred to as off a public assembly in the space in March after not too many individuals turned up, say sources, although the BJP stated the cancellation occurred on account of some unavoidable causes.

There are 4 meeting seats in Jhargram, whereas in West Midnapore, Purulia and in Bankura there are 15, 9 and 12 seats, respectively. These 40 constituencies kind Jangalmahal.

The Santhals are the dominant group right here, comprising 51.8 per cent of the complete Scheduled Tribe inhabitants in the state.

Making a change

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, all the seats below Jangalmahal together with Purulia, Midnapore, Bishnupur in Bankura and Jhargram went to the BJP.

However, this day trip of the 40 meeting seats, the TMC bagged 25, whereas the BJP received 15, which was a serious setback. Jangalmahal is taken into account an electoral swing area of Bengal.

But why did the tribal communities, primarily the Santhals and Kurmis, vote towards the BJP?

Many in the get together really feel that the ground-level staff did not convey the roadmap “effectively” for the welfare of the tribals in Jangalmahal. Also, one of the important local committees of the BJP in Lalgarh failed to get favourable results because of the TMC’s aggressive Didi ke Bolo (Tell Didi) and Duare Sarkar (Government at the doorsteps) campaigns in the entire region.

“The results in Jangalmahal are really shocking for us,” BJP’s Jhargram district president Tufan Mahato said. “We never expected this result and are trying to assess why we lost a majority of seats in Jangalmahal.”

Ajit Mahato, an influential chief of the Adivasi Samaj, stated, folks boycotted the BJP as a result of the get together failed to handle the actual points of the residents of Jangalmahal in its manifesto, like meals safety, dignified dwelling, and so forth, as promised by Mamata. “They only talk about Hindutva and capturing Bengal. People actually didn’t like their attitude against Mamata Banerjee,” he stated. “Not only in Jangalmahal, people across Bengal felt it was an unfair battle between Mamata and the BJP. On the one side was the entire BJP in full force including our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and on the other side she was alone. She got a lot of sympathy votes besides gaining popularity through her various schemes for the tribal people like Tribal Sahitya Akademi, Tribal Board, SC and ST Commission, recognition of Santhal language and syllabus in Ol-chiki language. The BJP failed to maintain a minimum courtesy. The Cultural Research Institute (CRI) report is also pending. So our point is at least someone should take some steps towards fulfilling our demands. Therefore, this time people once again trusted Mamata Banerjee with the hope that she will certainly look at their grievances seriously this time.”

The Cultural Research Institute (CRI) report is essential for the tribal group. In 1953, the Second Conference for Tribes and Tribal (Scheduled) Areas was held in Lohardaga. Then a decision was adopted to arrange tribal analysis institutes in all the states of the nation by the Centre. Based upon this coverage, the CRI was arrange in West Bengal in 1955. The major goal of the physique was to look into the wants of the Scheduled Tribes of the state. The CRI is answerable for endeavor analysis on tribal life and its totally different sides together with their socio-cultural, ethnographic, financial elements and academic standing. Besides serving to them by preserving and selling their heritage, makes an attempt to lift their financial and academic requirements are additionally key targets of the CRI.

Tribal sentiments

Chhatradhar Mahato, the face of the alleged Maoists-backed tribal motion in Jangalmahal from 2008 to 2011, who was roped in by Mamata earlier than the elections, additionally feels the similar approach and says that no technique works in the area as persons are hungry for love and respect.

“If you respect them, they will shower everything on you,” he said. “This is exactly what we do in Jangalmahal. We listen to their grievances and fulfil their demands with full dignity. I tried to understand the problems they faced over the past decade. Most of them demanded that they want to become self-reliant and alleged that they are finding it difficult to avail government schemes as there is no one to guide them. Taking note of their problems, I met the representatives of 13 tribal communities including Kurmi, Santhal, Lodha, Sabar, Mahali, Munda and others to create an umbrella body.”

Mahato alleged that the BJP performed with the sentiments of the tribal folks by taking their members of the family to Kolkata for providing ‘tarpan’ (libation) in the Ganga amid chants of “Jai Shri Ram”.

“The ritual of tarpan is not there in the tribal community. Tribal people believe in ‘Jai Guram’ and the BJP is asking them to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’. What does it mean? Those who tried to fool the tribal people don’t even know their tradition and culture. They are only concerned about tribal votes but for us their respect and dignity is much more important. This time the people in Jangalmahal have supported us and I am thankful to them,” he added.

Similarly, Kurmis, one other dominant tribe, additionally voted towards the BJP after their demand to incorporate them in the ST class was not fulfilled. They are additionally combating for the official recognition of Sarna Dharma.

In 1913, when India was below British rule, the Kurmis had been listed in the ST class. However, they had been dropped from the checklist on September 6, 1950. They are at present in the OBC (B) checklist and are demanding ST standing.

On the different aspect, in North Bengal, which is named the BJP’s stronghold, the TMC received 28 of the complete 54 seats whereas the remaining 26 went to the BJP.

The similar area turned Mamata’s nightmare in the 2019 parliamentary polls as a result of her get together did not win a single seat right here. Out of the eight Lok Sabha seats in the space, comprising Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Raiganj, Balurghat, North Malda and South Malda, seven went to the BJP, whereas South Malda was secured by the late common chief Ghani Khan Choudhury’s brother Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury of the Congress. In Malda North, BJP’s Khagen Murmu defeated sitting MP Mausam Noor (former Congress lawmaker who fought the polls on a TMC ticket), whereas Abus Hasem received the Malda South seat by defeating the BJP’s Sreerupa Mitra Choudhury. The TMC’s Md Moazzem Hossain stood third with a 27.47 vote share.

When requested what went towards the BJP this time, a senior get together chief in North Bengal stated, “In all the previous elections, Muslim votes (27-29 % in North Bengal) would get divided between the Congress, Left and TMC. But this time, as per our internal assessment, a majority of the Muslim vote share went to the TMC in North Bengal. The mathematics is not very complicated here. The TMC won 28 seats purely because of the consolidation of Muslim votes and also some support of the marginalised Rajbonshis and Kamtapuris.”

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