RAIPUR: With an eye on the upcoming elections in Chhattisgarh and to help win the trust of tribal communities, an RSS outfit on Tuesday organised a 'chintan-shivir' and discourse on ensuring reservation and development for the tribals. The move is notable as it comes amid speculation over the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's weakening base among the scheduled tribes in the poll-bound state.
Based on a theme 'pride and status of tribal communities' held at Raipur on Tuesday, the national convention was inaugurated by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The conference, slated to have nine sessions during the two-day programme, also touched upon tribal empowering laws such as Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act 1996 and Forget Rights Act.
The national convention held under the aegis of the RSS-affiliated Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and attended by over 125 thinkers, tribal leaders and activists from across the country is also seen as an attempt to rein in resentment by tribal communities in north Chhattisgarh's tribal belts of Sarguja and Jashpur districts through 'Pathalgadi' - installing giant stone plaques as sign of sovereign authority by the regional tribal communities.
The pathalgadi campaign has been interpreted by many as "rising against" the ruling party both in Chhattisgarh and neighbouring Jharkhand. With the tribals constituting nearly 32 per cent of the state population with 29 of the 90 seats reserved for them, they play a crucial role in the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections.
The BJP, which has consolidated its base in the tribal areas in Chhattisgarh ever since the new state was carved out of the undivided Madhya Pradesh in November 2000, couldn't perform on the party's expected lines in last 2013 polls. Of 29 ST reserved constituencies, the saffron party then could win just 11 while the remaining 18 went to the opposition Congress.