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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: ‘Separate code for Sarna religion gives BJP an edge in Jharkhand’

Many tribal organisations and the opposition however, termed it a belated move and dismissed it as another election stunt by the saffron party.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 10, 2019 15:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jamshedpur
lok sabha elections 2019,sarna tribals,lok sabha polls in jharkhand
Salkhan Murmu joined the JD (U) in the presence of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in Patna on April 1,2019- He is the Jharkhand state unit chief. (HT Photo )

Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das’s announcement in the state assembly in February this year to recommend a separate religious code for Sarna, a collective of indigenous religions of the state’s tribal population, to the central government, may clinch it for BJP in the Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand, claimed Jharkhand JD(U) president and former Mayurbhanj MP Salkhan Murmu on Thursday.

Many tribal organisations and the opposition however, termed it a belated move and dismissed it as another election stunt by the saffron party.

“I have been touring many assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies across the state for the past few weeks and the polarisation of Sarna tribals and converted tribals is palpable. This will give BJP the winning edge in tough contests in tribal dominated seats not just in Jharkhand, but also influence 100 crore tribal people in five states. CM Raghubar Das had announced recommending separate religion code for Sarna to the central government immediately after census 2021,” Murmu said.

Murmu has been camping in Chaibasa, which falls under the Singhbhum Lok Sabha seat for a week, while he returned from Gomiya, Bermo and Tundi assembly segments under Giridih Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday.

“The CM’s announcement, along with RSS’s endorsement has sent a message among tribal people that BJP’s national leadership is serious about according separate religion status to Sarna soon. We have been demanding it for long and had also held economic blockade and rail blockades in Jharkhand and West Bengal a few times. We are happy that BJP has acceded to our rightful demand,” said Murmu, reminding that Congress government in Karnataka had recommended same for the Lingayat sect, immediately after coming to power last year.

Also Read | Congress hopes to storm Jharkhand’s BJP citadel riding on tribal discontent

Murmu, a Santhal himself, said his Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (ASA) – a joint front of half a dozen tribal organisations active in five states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Odisha – have spread out across the state in tandem with BJP ST Morcha, Central Sarna Samiti (CSS) and such organisations and were mobilising tribal people on the issue.

Murmu had met CM Raghubar Das on the issue here on January 1 and state BJP president Laxman Gilua in December and claimed support from both the leaders. Earlier in October last year, Salkhan had met RSS prant sangh chalak Shiv Murti and extracted his support for the Sarna code as well.

“The Raghubar Das government’s decision to end reservation for converted tribals will also benefit the traditional nature-worshipping Sarna tribals. The frustration among the elements involved in converting gullible poor tribals are already evident in attacks on Sarna Samit members. The government should investigate these attacks and punish the perpetrators,” Murmu said, in an obvious reference to firing on CSS member Pradip Tirkey last month in Ranchi.

“Neither Congress nor JMM ever raised the issue of a separate religious code for our Sarna faith. They have been silent. They are actually anti-Sarna tribals due to their vote bank politics,” alleged Murmu.

Mukesh Birua, vice president of Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Mahasabha (ABAM), however, said this was another election stunt by BJP. “They were in the government for over four years, so why didn’t they recommended it earlier? Sometimes they say Sarna is part of Hinduism and sometimes they say it’s a separate religion. Let them first decide their stand on Sarna faith. 93% people from Ho tribe community mentioned Sarna as their religion in the last census, whereas the 55% from Oroan tribe and 43% from Munda tribe did the same. The lowest is Santhals, with only 36% of them mentioning Sarna as a religious code.”

For complete coverage of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, click here

First Published: May 10, 2019 15:38 IST

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