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GGP likely to upset political equation

After making its presence felt in almost all the 41 constituencies reserved for tribals in the State, the Gondwana Gantantra Party has started consolidating its position by wooing tribals, particularly, in all the seven reserved seats of Mandla and Dindori districts.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2003 15:20 IST

After making its presence felt in almost all the 41 constituencies reserved for tribals in the State, the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) has started consolidating its position by wooing tribals, particularly, in all the seven reserved (ST) seats of Mandla and Dindori districts.

As of now, it appears that the GGP may upset political equation in some tribal constituencies and cause some damage to the Congress — having 27 sitting MLAs in 41 tribal constituencies – by making inroads into the ruling party’s traditional vote bank.

There are approximately 60 lakh tribal voters in the State. With the election drawing closer, the GGP is playing on the tribal sentiments to the hilt by organising cultural functions in which tribals greeted each other with ‘Jai Sewa’ and ‘Jai Bada Dev’ – the God of Gonds.

The cultural programmes include the staging of plays showing the courage of Gondwana empire rulers Rani Durgawati who attained martyrdom fighting Mughals and King Shanker Shah and his crown Prince Raghunath Shah ,who were blown apart by the Britishers, during the sepoy mutiny of 1857 – first freedom struggle.
It is distributing literature and audiocassettes in tribal constituencies, recalling the good old days of the erstwhile Gondwana Empire in Central India (presently constituting a big portion of MP). The literature and cassettes glorify the Gondwana culture, saying it 35 crore year old and the Gonds ruled for 1,700 years.

The GGP is running some schools up to class IV to teach the tribal children ‘Gondi’ language and make them familiar with the valour of the erstwhile Gond-wana rulers.

It has opened nearly 300 banks in Mandla and Dindori. In these banks, the tribals women deposit a handful of rice twice a day against which money is credited in their accounts. Besides, these banks give loans to the needy tribals at 1 per cent interest. Also, the GGP is running a drive against the harmful effects of drinking among the tribals with a slogan ‘Bhatti todo aur bank kho-lo’.

The party leaders allege that the upper castes and the Congress want them to be addicted to liquor so that they can rule them. Party’s State chief Gulzar Singh Markam alleges that the Digvijay Singh Government is encouraging tribals to take to liquor by allowing them to keep 40 litres country made liquor at their homes in order to keep them poor and rule over them.

First Published: Oct 23, 2003 15:20 IST