AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will address a tribal gathering at the APMC market in Bodeli in Gujarat’s Chhota Udepur district on Sunday even as pamphlets distributed by the party at the venue listed out the “savings” that each household in the state will see if the party is voted to power in the upcoming Assembly polls.
The roads leading to Bodeli are lined with hoardings of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its election symbol, the broom. Interestingly, in view of the AAP’s prospective alliance with the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) in Gujarat, tribal leader and BTP chief Chhotu Vasava, the MLA from Jhagadia in Bharuch, features on AAP hoardings, including at the venue in Bodeli, though they do not mention the BTP.
Pamphlets distributed by the AAP at the venue have a list of “savings” every household will see for five years if the AAP is voted to power in Gujarat. In it, the party has calculated the total savings per household as Rs 11.13 lakh over five years, which includes an annual saving of Rs 27,600 from subsidised electricity, Rs 72,000 towards annual school fees of two children of a family, Rs 36,000 in healthcare benefits, Rs 17,000 towards free pilgrimage for aged persons as well as an income of Rs 36,000 for unemployed youth at the rate of Rs 3,000 per month and Rs 24,000 to be given to two adult females of each household at the rate of Rs 1,000 per month.
Interestingly, the pamphlet also states that each household in Gujarat will also save Rs 10,000 spent on bribes annually because of a corruption-free AAP government that will not require families to bribe government officials.
The six guarantees that the AAP has announced for the tribals ahead of the elections are in the areas of law, education, health, caste certificates, housing and roads. The first of the six guarantees is the “strict implementation of the PESA Act” along with the formation of a Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) headed by a tribal leader.
Gujarat had notified the State PESA Rules with the promise that gram sabhas would have complete power to decide on matters related to their territories for safeguarding their customs, traditions as well as natural resources in tribal areas. The implementation of PESA in the areas notified under Schedule V of the Constitution has been a major issue raised by the BTP, which has been advocating complete rights for tribal land owners. In fact, Vasava said the total implementation of PESA was an “absolute condition” for the alliance.
The AAP has also announced state-of-the-art residential schools for tribal children in each district of Gujarat that will teach tribal history, language, culture and traditions and also carry out research on these subjects. Besides, the party has promised a tribal university in Gujarat. Other promises include “modern mohalla clinics, like in Delhi” as well as hospitals and specialised treatment for sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia and other illnesses specific to the tribal region of Gujarat.
It has vowed to issue tribal caste certificates to “genuine” tribals who have been excluded from the list of notified Scheduled Tribes. Incidentally, the Tribal Development Department (TDD) of Gujarat issued a circular on August 4, ahead of Kejriwal’s visit, clarifying that the agitating Koli-Rathwa and Rathwa-Koli community will be considered under the listed Rathwa tribe of Chhota Udepur district. Officials with the state government told The Indian Express that the notification was not new but a reiteration of previous circulars.
Besides, the AAP has promised the construction of roads connecting villages in remote areas of tribal districts in Gujarat.