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After success in Rajasthan assembly poll, BTP to contest 3 Lok Sabha seats

The Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) emerged as a dark horse in the Rajasthan assembly elections in December 2018, winning two of the 11 constituencies where it had fielded its candidates. Now the party plans to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Feb 28, 2019 14:10 IST
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Hindutstan Times, Jaipur
Women wait in a queue to cast their votes in a village near Ajmer, during the assembly elections in Rajasthan, Dec. 7, 2018.
Women wait in a queue to cast their votes in a village near Ajmer, during the assembly elections in Rajasthan, Dec. 7, 2018. (AP File / Representative Photo )
         

After making a splash and winning two seats in Rajasthan assembly elections, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) is set to contest on three seats in the Lok Sabha elections.

The party is planning to field candidates on the Udaipur, Banswara-Dungarpur and Chittorgarh seats, much to the discomfort of the Congress and the BJP.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, three are reserved for Scheduled Tribes – Dausa, Udaipur and Banswara-Dungarpur.

The BTP emerged as a dark horse in the assembly elections in December 2018. The party had fielded candidates on 11 of the 200 constituencies and won two seats in the Dungarpur district in south Rajasthan.

Though it won only two assembly seats, it has the two major parties worried about a shift in their vote base.

“We will contest on three seats and we are hopeful of winning the Banswara-Dungarpur seat where we have a strong base,” says BTP Rajasthan president Velaram Ghoghra. He says a few other seats are under consideration if suitable candidates can be found.

“Our fight is for the rights of our people and to preserve our culture. Both parties have used tribals as a votebank but then ignored us. Tribals are disenchanted with both parties.”

The party was formed in August last year and its symbol is the tempo. It has set up its organization in five districts of Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Dungarpur and Banswara with a membership base of around 50,000, says party leader BL Chhanwal. There are around 13 lakh tribals in the five districts.

Ghoghra says the main issue for the polls will be the supreme court ruling on eviction of tribals from forest land. Apart from that the party will raise the issues of rights of tribals under the Fifth Schedule, employment for tribals and facilities such as roads, education and health.

Rajesh Katara, a Congress leader from Banswara says Congress is in a strong position as traditionally the party that wins the assembly election wins the parliamentary polls too.

He, however, admits that the BTP has cut into Congress votes. “In the assembly elections Congress came at third spot on seats where BTP won. The Congress vote has shifted.”

However political commentator Narayan Bareth feels the BTP will not be as effective in the Lok Sabha polls as it was in the assembly. “I don’t think they will be able to win any seat. A parliamentary constituency has a much larger area as compared to an assembly constituency and requires more manpower and resources.”

BJP leader from Banswara Hakru Mahida too says BTP will not have much impact in the Lok Sabha polls. Modi is popular in the region as Banswara and Dungarpur districts border Gujarat where locals go for employment, he says.

“In the Lok Sabha elections people are going to vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The opposition does not have a credible face.”

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 14:09 IST

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