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Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls, ABVP to lay the groundwork for BJP’s expansion into tribal areas

Tribals form nearly 26% of Jharkhand’s population and the BJP has been making efforts to win them over.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2017 07:33 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
LS Polls,Lok Sabha polls,Lok Sabha elections
In September, BJP chief Amit Shah visited Jharkhand and laid the foundation for the construction of houses at Ulihatu, the birthplace of tribal leader Birsa Munda.(Diwakar Prasad/ HT File Photo)

As the Bharatiya Janata Party sets out to woo tribal communities ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)— an offshoot of its mentor the RSS— is helping the party lay the groundwork to achieve its goal.

The ABVP, which is scheduled to hold its annual national conference in Ranchi this week, has raised the issue of ‘inadequate facilities’ and ‘poor state’ of the hostels being run for tribal students in the region and demanded an increase in the allocation of scholarship funds for them.

In Jharkhand, the tribals form nearly 26% of the population and the BJP has been putting in efforts to win them over. In September, party chief Amit Shah visited the state and laid the foundation for the construction of houses at Ulihatu, the birthplace of tribal leader Birsa Munda.

The ABVP’s move to raise the issues affecting the students of state’s tribal communities was perceived by some as an attempt to garner support for the BJP, which observers said might have to battle double anti-incumbency sentiment in Jharkhand in the run-up to the 2019 assembly and general elections.

The outfit’s efforts are also in line with the RSS’ campaign to draw the tribals into its fold and expand its footprint in tribal areas through organisations like the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.

However, ABVP’s national media convener Saket Bahuguna, brushed off the suggestion that the decision to hold the organisation’s national convention in the state’s capital from November 30 to December 3 was driven by political interests.

“We want more opportunities for tribal students, more funds so that they can pursue higher education.

It was the ABVP that filed a PIL on the state of hostels constructed and run by the government for SC and ST students. Most of these hostels lack elementary facilities,” Bahuguna told HT and added that they were only raising students-related issues.

The ABVP had claimed that it surveyed the hostels run for SC and ST students across 14 states and found them lacking basic amenities and added that in few districts, the premises were converted into shelters for beggars.

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 07:32 IST