Tribals, SCs return to Congress in Madhya Pradesh

May 18th, 2009 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bhopal, May 18 (IANS) Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs) returned to the Congress party fold in Madhya Pradesh in the just-concluded general elections; the party bagged six of the 10 parliamentary seats reserved for these marginalised communities.
The Congress, which seemed to be losing its grip over a vast tribal electorate in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state during the past few Lok Sabha elections, has won four of the six tribal seats.

While in the Malwa region, the Congress has won Ratlam and Dhar, the Bharatiya Janata Party could succeed only in Khargone which was declared a tribal seat following delimitation of constituencies.

In Ratlam, union minister of state for agriculture Kantilal Bhuria of the Congress defeated Dileep Singh Bhuria of the BJP. The latter’s credibility among voters took a beating perhaps because he had been hopping from one party to another frequently.

Both the tribal seats in the Mahakoshal region - Mandla and Shahdol - were won by the Congress.

The results not only herald the virtual extinction of the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), which at one time promised to emerge as a major political force in the region but also indicate that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) network among tribals too is on wane in the Malwa region.

Of the 10 SC and ST seats in the state, only four have gone to the BJP. In 2004, the BJP had bagged nine and the Congress only one.

In the Betul (SC) Lok Sabha constituency, Jyoti Dhurve of the BJP emerged victorious. The seat, which went to poll as a reserved one for the first time, continues to be dominated by business communities like Khandelwals and Dagas. The BJP won the seat with its more meticulous election management and due to the weak Congress candidate.

But Congress candidates sprung a surprise in Ujjain and Dewas, both SC seats, by defeating the BJP’s old war horses Satyanarayan Jatia and Thavar Chand Gehlot.

Jamuna Devi, Congress leader and leader of opposition in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, attributes the return of SCs and STs to the party fold to the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and the Tribal Rights Act.

“The disenchantment with the Congress was only an aberration. Tribals have always been with the Congress,” she added.

The BJP has no answer yet as to why tribals and SCs have suddenly returned to the Congress fold. “We are examining things,” said state BJP spokesperson Govind Malu.

The Congress got 12 out of the 29 parliamentary seats in the state, the BJP bagged 16 while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got one.

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