Tribal girls welcome Arjun Munda (centre) and other senior BJP leaders at the event in Ranchi on Saturday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, July 19: The national working committee of the BJP’s Scheduled Tribes (ST) Morcha today kicked off a series of discussion on its future course of action in poll-bound Jharkhand, where 28 out of the 81 Assembly seats are reserved for tribal candidates.
Three Union ministers Jual Oram from Odisha, Mansukhbhai Vasava from Gujarat and Jharkhand’s own Sudarshan Bhagat graced the inaugural session, underlining the importance being attached to this two-day meet.
Former chief minister Arjun Munda, state BJP chief Ravindra Rai and his predecessor Raghuvar Das, a host of MPs and MLAs took part in the event held at the state zoo authorities’ auditorium in the forest headquarters complex in Ranchi.
“Coming together is the work half done,” said Union tribal affairs minister Oram, while addressing the 400-odd delegates. “Thinking together will complete another 30 per cent and sincere work will take care of the rest.
Emphasising on the importance of tribal issues in polls, Oram said if the ST candidates could win 32 seats in the recent Lok Sabha elections across the country, there was no reason why they could not secure the reserved seats in the states heading towards the Assembly polls later this year.
Apart from Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh are also gearing up for the Vidha Sabha elections.
“So let us interact and decide the next course of action to accomplish the job,” he further said.
The minister was trying to highlight the fact that ST candidates won five out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, including BJP’s Karia Munda (Khunti), Sudarshan Bhagat (Lohardaga), Laxman Gilua (Singhbhum) and JMM’s Shibu Soren (Dumka) and Vijay Hansdak (Rajmahal).
Further, ST wing’s national president Faggan Singh Kulaste said BJP had filed ST candidates from 39 Lok Sabha seats, out of them 27 won their seats.
This apart, another five ST candidates won general seats, taking up the ST MPs’ number to 32. Five of them have been made ministers.
Speaking on the occasion, Arjun Munda said the tribal society was at the crossroad. “The condition is favourable. The people have, for the first time, voted a non-Congress government to power in the country with a thumping majority. There is a chance to repeat the same in the coming assembly polls,” he added.
Munda further said the tribals had been facing injustice despite constitutional and legal protections. “Only a carefully drafted policy and its implementation can address their problems properly,” he opined, adding that it would be possible only when the central and the state governments worked in unison.