Are adivasi voters a confused lot?

Nine ethnic tribes initially united are straining to stay together

The current election has not thrown up any possibility of finding a political solution to the Adivasi problem in Telangana, especially in the composite Adilabad district, where the movement is the strongest. In fact, all political parties have given the short-shrift to aboriginal people’s demands, which form the crux of the over-one-year -old Adivasi movement for expulsion of the Lambada tribe from the list of Scheduled Tribes.

The aboriginal people are also asking the government not to dilute the special laws for Agency areas by issuing pahani-nakal documents to non-tribals tilling government lands, as it makes them eligible for crop loans.

With the start of election process, the estimated 3 lakh voters belonging to nine ethnic tribes in old Adilabad, who initially looked to be a united entity, are straining to stay together.

While the BJP leaders committed themselves to solving land problems in Agency area, the Congress went a step further when AICC leader Jairam Ramesh, during his campaign in Sirpur constituency on December 3, declared his party’s support to the Mali community in its endeavour to get included in the ST list. Earlier in the day, Minister K. T. Rama Rao in his public meeting at Utnoor had announced his party’s intent to get Kaithi Lambada community enlisted as a ST

Before election, the Adivasis had decided to support the Congress if it fielded leaders of the movement Athram Sakku from Asifabad (ST) constituency and Soyam Bapu Rao from Boath (ST). Towards this aim, the aboriginal voters of Khanapur constituency decided to support the BJP candidate Satla Ashok, as he was an Adivasi.

But the semblance of unity seems to have vanished since the November 26 visit of Congress working president A. Revanth Reddy to the constituencies when Mr. Bapu Rao declared the Adivasis had nothing against the Lambada tribe. The statement seems to have spread confusion among the ethnic electorate and was visible when 500 of them attended the public meeting of the IT Minister at Utnoor in support of his party candidate A. Rekha Naik, a Lambada.

(Source: The Hindu)

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