Ratlam-Jhabua: Keeping tribal leaders away proved costly for BJP

  • Ranjan Srivastava, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Nov 26, 2015 10:38 IST
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (PTI Photo)

The ruling BJP’s organizational skill has come under scanner after the humiliating defeat in the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha by-elections.

Many in the BJP feel that like the Bihar polls, the contest too turned out to be a “local versus outsider” contest in which the Congress candidate managed to convince the masses with his excellent communication skill that he was tribes people’s “own man”. The BJP’s candidate, Nirmala Bhuriya miserably failed in outdoing her rival in terms of communication skills in tribal language, some of them said.

Kantilal Bhuria preferred sitting on dari (rug) among the tribal whereas the BJP leaders were found moving around in their luxurious SUVs. A seasoned politician as he is, Kantilal, who had represented the constituency for four consecutive terms before he lost the 2014 polls, was seen in the forefront of the gathering at the cremation of Dilip Singh Bhuria--the sitting MP and his political rival-- whose demise necessitated the by-polls.

He also kept on trumpeting his slogan throughout the campaign that the fight between Chouhan’s Bhuria--Nirmala Bhuria--and tribal Bhuria--Kantilal Bhuria.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan led the campaign from the front along with more than a dozen of his cabinet colleagues, crisscrossing the constituency in a bid to garner votes, saying it was the BJP who could ensure development in the area.

BJP leaders, including the party’s state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, his team, state party general secretary (organisation) Arvind Menon besides hordes of lawmakers and office-bearers camped in the constituency to ensure a victory, which ultimately eluded them.

“How can one imagine that a Brahmin leader could be the party’s district president in Jhabua, which is tribal-dominated. It’s a glaring example of party’s lack of understanding on how to connect to the tribes people.

“To make matters worse, the district president was facing charges about his alleged involvement in a betting racket while he was absconding and avoiding arrest,” a party leader told Hindustan Times.

According to BJP leaders, the party leadership failed to realise the fact that only tribal leaders could have been the best communicators with tribe people.

The leadership depended on non-tribal, who were traders and businessmen and had no political acumen but they are holding party posts. In Jhabua traders and tribal are considered two poles apart. Tribes people look at traders and businessmen as exploiters rather than sympathisers.

The state BJP media in-charge Dr Hitesh Bajpai, however, disagrees that the party failed to communicate with tribes people.

“We couldn’t effectively convey the welfare measures and development work of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to the masses at the booth level,” he said.

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