MYSURU: With Assembly elections round the corner, the tribal population of the state has joined hands to demand its pound of flesh.Though a 22,000-strong force, none from the community has made it to Karnataka Assembly or Legislative Council in the past, so they want prominent political parties and leaders to exhibit an “openminded political will” and field at least two primitive or forest tribal candidates out of the 15 ST assembly seats in the state.
There was cheer all around when constituencies reserved for Schedule Tribe was increased to 15 from the earlier two seats in delimitation, but that none of them went to a person from their community, has not gone down well with indigenous people of forests.There are as many as six lakh tribal folk across eight districts including Mysuru, Chamrajnagar, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Chikkamagalur and Ramanagara who are spread in 1,500 habitats. They want that a candidate from their community represent Heggadevana Kote ST reserved constituency in Mysuru district, as it is the only area with a sizable tribal voters.
Girijana Shikshana samithi Director Prabhu said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda and BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa must reserve H D Kote seat for a tribal person. Former ZP Vice-President Kethamma, though, says the community has no political space in local bodies or assembly seats as all seats have gone to non-forest persons. “How the tribal community expects this when they could not enter or win even one assembly seat in the past 70 years,” she wondered.
She said that their voice should be heard in the assembly and only a tribal can throw light on issues that attract the attention of the community, which includes 19 tribes with Jennu Kuruba, Koraga, Soligas amd Siddis being some.Somanna of Budakattu Krishikara sangha, who had unsuccessfully contested an assembly poll as an independent candidate believes that it will be difficult to fight wealthy non-forest tribe candidates in the ST seats.
“It is unfortunate that major political parties run behind dominant non-forest tribes than giving some political space for tribals in a democratic set up,” he said.There are also a few voices who want the government to nominate a tribal to the Legislative Council as they could not win an ST seat that spreads through Bellary, Raichur and north Karnataka regions.
The organisation hailed Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for setting aside Rs 300 cr in the budget for adivasis. He should also set up an Adivaisis Development Corporation, separating it from Valmiki Development Corporation. A chairman and directors from 19 sects of adivasi communities to formulate programme, decide on allocation and execute development programmes than gives a free hand to Valmiki Development Corporation is necessary.Research scholar Rathamma, also a tribal, said they have apprised Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the situation. “We want it to be done now to stop diversion of funds or non-utilisation of funds for tribal empowerment,” she said.