Raipur: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chhattisgarh is making determined efforts to win back tribals to the party in the run-up to the assembly elections due in 2013.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh travelled Saturday with a number of cabinet colleagues to Jagdalpur, a major gateway to the tribal dominated Bastar district to take part in a convention of Dhurvas, a tribal community which has dominated agricultural activity in the region.
The visit of the high-level ministerial delegation to Bastar comes amidst increased Maoist violence in the area. There is currently an uneasy truce holding in the aftermath of the late April abduction of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon and his subsequent release after an agreement between Maoists` and government interlocutors.
The high-level delegation led by the chief minister, included the state ministers of water resources, forests, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes Development, the minister in-charge of Bastar, as well as Member of Parliament, Dinesh Kashyap.
Raman Singh inaugurated a garden developed by the Jagdalpur Municipal Corporation, which has been named after noted tribal freedom fighter Gundadhur, who was from the Dhurva community. A statue of the tribal martyr installed in the garden was unveiled by the chief minister, who also announced special schemes for tribals and various development projects for the area.
The Bastar region has emerged as key to government formation in the state as the area sends 12 legislators to the assembly. Like the minorities, tribals too have shown a tendency of voting en bloc in favour of a single party. Traditionally a Congress bastion, the Bastar tribal population has favoured the BJP in the last two assembly polls. The BJP currently holds 11 of the 12 assembly seats from the area.
The Raman Singh government`s failure to provide adequate security to those who participated in the anti-Maoist "Salwa Judum" drive involving local people, the use of force on tribals protesting in the state capital, and some other past lapses of the state government are believed to have distanced the Bastar tribal population from the party.
Senior state cabinet minister Brijmohan Agrawal had extensively toured Bastar during the government`s village contact programme - gram suraj abhiyaan - in April, along with legislators and ministers from the area, and had announced a number of projects for the violence affected region in order to woo back the tribal population.