Tribals of Gujarat find a new political ally in Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party- details here

Ahmedabad: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has emerged as a direct challenger to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), winning 23 of the 27 Scheduled Tribe seats in Gujarat. The new entrant in state politics was in a direct fight with the ruling party on nine seats reserved for STs. Although the AAP could win only one seat and the Congress only three, it seems that the tribals have found a new political ally in the Aam Aadmi Party.

The Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), which had won two seats in alliance with the Congress in the 2017 elections, failed to open its account as it contested all 24 seats. Congress and BTP contested this election separately.

Capitalizing on the split of opposition votes among the Congress, BTP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling BJP more than doubled its number of seats compared to the 2017 assembly polls. In Dediapada seat, AAP candidate Chaitar Vasava got 1.02 lakh votes against BJP’s Hitesh Vasava, which is the highest number of votes polled by an AAP candidate in this election.

In Jhagadia, seven-time MLA Chhotu Vasava was defeated by BJP candidate Ritesh Vasava. Congress captures Vansda and Danta seats. It managed to gain control of Khedbrahma, where tribal leader Tushar Chowdhary defeated Ashwin Kotwal, who held the seat on a Congress ticket until he switched to the BJP.

Read also: Who will be the CM of Congress in Himachal Pradesh? Check out these names leading the race

Arjun Rathwa, who contested from Chhota Udepur, said AAP candidates fought “honestly” in areas where liquor and distribution of money influenced voters. Rathwa got 43,880 votes, but lost to Rajendrasinh Rathwa, son of veteran tribal leader Mohansinh Rathwa.

Rathwa told PTI, “Many of our leaders got huge votes and emerged as a direct challenge to the BJP, while we did not resort to distribution of money and liquor like them.” We will continue to work for them.”

The AAP has seriously hurt the Congress in a region that was once considered the grand old party’s bastion, indicating that the tribal population is thinking differently. The Scheduled Tribe community constitutes about 14 per cent of the state’s population and is spread across the eastern belt with 27 seats reserved for them in the 182-member assembly.

Since 1995, this is only the third time that the BJP’s tally has surpassed that of the Congress in constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Both the Congress and the AAP had promised to implement the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act if voted to power in the state. Kejriwal also promised to ensure that the Tribal Advisory Committee under the Act would be headed by a member of the community.

The Congress traditionally had tribal support through a network of institutions working in the region for education and social reforms.

The BJP has made inroads in recent years, strongly selling its Hindutva slogan, besides highlighting the development work done by its government through the allocation of a special budget for tribal-dominated areas .

Although the AAP fielded candidates for all assembly seats in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, it kept its main focus on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, where it has been able to make some strongholds in recent years.

The party gained ground in BJP-ruled Gujarat after winning 27 seats in the 2021 Surat Municipal Corporation elections. The Congress with 36 corporators lost all the seats in the municipal elections.

According to reports, AAP plans to contest elections in most of the states due next year. These states include Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. AAP is also planning to contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which is likely to be held early next year.

(With PTI/ANI inputs)