In south Rajasthan today, Rahul Gandhi to try to woo back tribals
Rahul Gandhi will be in the Rajasthani town of Sagwara to attempt to woo back tribal voters ahead of state elections.
Once considered the pocket borough of the Congress, the tribal belt—comprising the districts of Udaipur, Banswara, Dungarpur and Pratapgarh—saw the BJP trounce the Congress in the state in the 2013 elections.
Gandhi, who is slated to address his first public meeting for the 2018 Rajasthan elections, has an emotional connect with this tribal region of southern Rajasthan. The mortal remains of former prime ministers Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi— the family he belongs to—were immersed at the confluence of the Som-Mahi rivers in Beneshwar Dham, the tribal ‘Mahakumbh’, about 25 km from the giant stage prepared for Gandhi to address representatives of the 45 lakh-strong tribal population of the region.
“The writing is on the wall. Congress is coming with a big majority. Rajasthan’s result will pave the way and Congress will lead the government at the Centre also,” said state Congress chief Sachin Pilot. In the 2013 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 14 of the 16 tribal seats in this region, despite the then Congress chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, having launched a Rs 1,200-crore railway project to connect the tribal belt to other parts of the state.
However, political commentator Ram Pratap Singh said, “Narendra Modi has a great influence in these tribal districts bordering Gujarat. The BJP slowly penetrated in the traditional vote bank through the word of Modi’s good work in Gujarat. Also, the RSS has been working closely with tribals for the last two decades winning base for BJP. All these factors contributed to rise of BJP in this otherwise Congress stronghold. Congress then would have to work really hard to bounce back.”
The BJP is upbeat. In April this year, the Modi government had approved the declaration of 227 villages spread across the tribal districts of Dungarpur, Banswara and Pratapgarh as scheduled area, giving the tribals control over minor minerals and minor forest produce