TS Singh Deo, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, has refuted claims that the state’s tribals have shifted their allegiance to the BJP, resulting in the Congress’s significant defeat. He argued that the Congress’s performance was not poor; rather, the BJP simply performed better. In the tribal-dominated districts of Bastar and Sarguja, the Congress only managed to win four seats in Bastar and none in Sarguja.
The BJP, on the other hand, secured victory in 17 out of the 29 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category. Overall, the party won 54 out of the state’s 90 seats, while the Congress only obtained 35, a significant decline from the 68 seats they won in 2018.
When questioned about the disappointing performance in tribal areas, Mr. Deo stated that the narrow margins of the BJP’s victory indicated that tribal votes had not shifted away. He pointed out that the Congress lost one seat by a margin of 14 votes, another by 100 to 200 votes, and a third by 94 votes. He believed that the BJP’s successful implementation of a better program for women contributed to their success.
It has been evident for the past few years that the tribals in Chhattisgarh have been dissatisfied, as indicated by the numerous protests regarding the pricing of tendu leaves and other minor forest products. Tendu leaves, also known as “green gold,” are a major source of income for tribals, who have now taken their produce to the open market. In May 2021, four people died and 46 were injured during a protest in Sukma district, with a pregnant woman also losing her life in the hospital.
The consequences of this dissatisfaction were seen in the recent election, as the tribals, similar to how the farmer vote swung towards the Congress after the farmers’ deaths in Mandsaur police firing, turned to the BJP this time. Additionally, just before the election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strategically announced a Rs 24,000 crore scheme for Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups from neighboring Jharkhand.
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