Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Chouhan announces revamp of Kol tribe rulers’ fort

By, Bhopal
Jun 10, 2023 04:40 AM IST

In the assembly elections due to be held later this year, BJP is looking towards garnering the support of the Kols, the third most populous tribe in the state

Ahead of the assembly elections, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday laid the foundation stone for renovation of Kol Garhi Fort, associated with the erstwhile Kol tribe rulers of Teonthar tehsil, in Rewa district.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan (ANI)
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan (ANI)

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“Kol Garhi is a matter of pride and self-respect for the Kol community. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will always work for the pride of the Kol community... BJP has taken inspiration from Shabari, a tribal woman who offered berries to Lord Ram in the Ramayana and Birsa Munda... We will install statues of Shabari and Birsa Munda at the Garhi,” Chouhan said.

Chouhan made the remarks while addressing a Kol Mahasammelan, near the fort, after laying the foundation stone for the renovation work at the fort. The programme was organised by the state government for distribution of pattas (land deeds) to 3,000 families of the tribal community.

“The Kol community is among those who constructed a hut made up of leaves for Lord Ram during his exile... this community is very close to the BJP,” he added.

In the assembly elections due to be held later this year, the BJP is looking towards garnering the support of the Kols, the third most populous tribe in the state, after the Bhils and Gonds, according to political experts.

The Kol community forms 11% of the tribal population of the state and resides mainly in the Vindhya region. The BJP, experts said, is looking to repeat its performance in the 2018 assembly elections, when it won 24 of the 30 seats in the region.

The Mahasammelan was a second such mega event held for the Kol community in the state in the last four months. In February, a ‘Shabari Mahakumbh’ was organised in Satna district in which Union home minister Amit Shah was the chief guest. Shah and Chouhan had announced several schemes for the Kol community, such as disbursal of loans for start-ups, industrial training of Kol youngsters and hostels for the community members.

Political expert from Vindhya region, Jayram Shukla, said: “The Kol community has influence over 15 seats in the Vindhya region... It could be evaluated with an example that in 2008, Ramgareeb Kol had contested the elections and won as a BSP candidate from Teonthar seat of Rewa. The BJP is trying to woo them to ensure they win at least 24 seats.”

“Anthropologist Walter G Griffiths had said in his book that Kols belong to Central India but Shabari Mata belongs to South India... BJP is connecting Kols with Lord Ram... The chief minister always makes a reference to the Kol community and Lord Ram in his speeches,” he added.

BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said: “The BJP is working for the welfare of all communities. Unlike the Congress, we are reaching out to every poor and under privileged families. We are only following our ideology.”

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The Congress, however, said that the ruling BJP will fail in its “agenda”. “The BJP wants to woo the Kol voters by distorting history. We respect Shabari Mata and the Ramayan but by giving such statements that Shabari Mata belongs to Kol community and that they made a hut for Lord Ram is nothing but an agenda for political benefits,” state Congress Committee spokesperson JP Dhanopia said.

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    She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.

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