How scrapped project can hurt BJP in Gujarat tribal seats

Nikunj Patel, a social worker and computer engineer, says the protest against the river linking project was against the entire tribal community.

Published: 28th November 2022 07:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th November 2022 08:26 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

NAVSARI(S.GUJARAT) : A centre of tribal politics in Gujarat, Vansda is about 340 km from Ahmedabad. Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party chief CR Patil has ‘adopted’ the Vansda assembly; little doubt, then, the BJP is trying its best to capture the seat.

Pradeep Garasia, president of the Samast Adivasi Samaj Sansthan,’ is fighting for the rights of tribal community for years. “Not only Vansda, look at the condition of tribals across Gujarat and India. In the name of development, just any project is announced for the area without asking the tribal communities,” says Garasia.

“If you look at Vansda, Tapi, Navasari, Dang, and the entire tribal belt of south Gujarat, you will understand what is wrong with the government approach. First, the government took up the project of displacing the people of 69 villages in the name of Par-Tapi river link. When tribal opposition grew against it, the government decided to drop it,” says Garasia.

Eventually, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel announced in May that the project was being scrapped, but how much damage the entire decision-making has caused would be clear only after the Assembly results. “The project would have damaged our land, rivers and the environment. What kind of development was it?” asks Garasia.

Anant Patel, a Congress leader, has stood up for the tribals regardless of whether his party opposes the project or not. Patel, 45, is an MLA from Vansda constituency and has been at the forefront of protests in Navsari and Valsad districts against land acquisition for highway projects. Patel heads the Gujarat Congress’ Adivasi (tribal) Cell.

Nikunj Patel, a social worker and computer engineer, says the protest against the river linking project was against the entire tribal community. “I want to ask the government that if development is to go on, then why do you choose tribal land?” he says.

This time BJP has given the ticket to Piyush Patel, a former government officer. “During his stint, he never listened to us. So, what will he do if he becomes MLA?” asks Nikunj.There are 141 villages in the Vansda assembly constituency, which is considered a stronghold of the Congress. Over 90% of the population in Vansda taluka is tribal. Political observers say the river-linking project is going to cost heavily for BJP, not only in Vansda or Dang but in many tribal belt which stretches from Ambaji in the north to Umergam in the Valsad district, which has 27 reserved seats. In 2017, Congress won 15 of them while BJP won eight.

ADR: BJP gets max corporate donations in Guj between ’17-’21
The BJP has got a maximum of corporate donations from Gujarat between 2017 and 2021. According to Association for Democratic Reform (ADR), it is 16 times higher than Congress corporate donations.On Sunday, ADR released the data saying, “During the five years, maximum corporate donations worth Rs 163.544 cr were declared by BJP from 1,519 donors. The BJP received highest donations in FY 2018-19 of Rs 46.222 cr from 524 donations, whereas Congress got 10.46 crore during the period between 2017 and 2021. Four political parties - BJP, Congress, AAP and SKM - received corporate donations worth Rs 174.06 crore from 1,571 donors from Gujarat between FY 2016-17 and 2020-21. The report said between FY 2016-17 and 2020-21, six Gujarat-based companies donated to political parties via Prudent Electoral Trust, Torrent Power Limited, Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Torrent Pharma Limited, Cadila Healthcare Limited, Essar Bulk Terminal Paradip Limited, and Act Infraport Ltd.   Dilip Singh Kshatriya


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