BHOPAL: The political race to win over tribals seems to be hotting up in Madhya Pradesh, with the Congress deciding to hold a convention in Jabalpur on November 15 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a tribal rally in Bhopal to mark the birth anniversary of the community icon and freedom fighter Birsa Munda.
Days ahead of the prime minister's visit, the ruling BJP has accused Congress of ignoring tribal icons including Munda and others for its "reverence of a single-family".
The opposition party hit back, alleging the saffron party is trying to use tribal icons for its "vote bank politics".
The Madhya Pradesh government has organised a tribal convention on the occasion of the "Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas" (Tribal Pride Day) on November 15 at Bhopal's Jamboree Maidan which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet had decided to declare November 15 as 'Janjatiya Gaurav Divas' to mark the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda and honour the contributions of the members of Scheduled Tribes to Indian history and culture.
"The Congress is organising a convention in Jabalpur on November 15 to pay tribute to the revered tribal leader and freedom fighter Birsa Munda, whose statue was installed there by our (erstwhile) government, on his birth anniversary," state Congress spokesman Bhupendra Gupta told PTI on Saturday.
He claimed that Congress organises this event every year which is attended by tribal people from many areas surrounding Jabalpur.
Madhya Pradesh Congress president and former chief minister Kamal Nath, local MLAs and tribal leaders will attend the programme this year, he added.
"These revolutionaries have been revered by Congress for decades. But this (the upcoming Bhopal convention to be addressed by the PM) seems to be a newfound love of BJP and their affiliated organisations for tribals for a vote bank politics," he said.
MP BJP secretary Rajnish Agrawal, however, accused Congress of ignoring tribal icons and revering only one family, apparently referring to the Gandhis.
"Congress has ignored tribal icons like Birsa Munda, Shankar Shah, Raghunath Shah and many others to revere only one family. Now, the BJP has forced them to remember these icons," Agrawal said.
He alleged that Congress had opposed the government's decision to hold the 'Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas' on Birsa Munda's birth anniversary.
"BJP governments constructed memorial of tribal icons and worked to make the new generation aware about their lives," he said.
Incidentally, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had on September 18 announced that 'Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas' will be held on November 15 every year to mark the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda.
He had made this announcement during a programme to observe the martyrdom day of tribal icons and erstwhile Gondwana Empire ruler Shankar Shah and his son Raghunath Shah.