Two days after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal announced a six-point guarantee for tribals in Gujarat ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls in the state, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Tuesday said the state’s tribal community, which has seen “more progress” than those in other parts of India under the leadership of Narendra Modi in the last two decades, “does not fall for enticement” from other parties.
Responding to allegations by the AAP and its alliance partner Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) on non-implementation of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act or PESA Act, Patel – who was speaking in Jhalod taluka in the tribal district of Dahod at an official event to mark World Tribal Day – said the BJP-led state government had “strictly implemented” the legislation.
Twenty-seven districts in Gujarat have organised various events as part of observing World Tribal Day. At the event in Jhalod, Patel talked about the “overall development” seen by tribal communities in Gujarat, crediting the leadership of Narendra Modi since his days as the chief minister of the state.
Patel, who inaugurated 5,690 tribal development projects worth Rs 1,600 crore on the occasion, said, “The government has brought projects worth crores to your doorstep. The development of the tribal community under Narendra Modi’s leadership has been happening for over two decades. Tribal families residing in the entire stretch of 53 talukas from Ambaji to Umargaon in Gujarat have benefitted from the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana brought by Narendrabhai. We celebrate World Tribal Day to ensure that tribals see financial, social, and political development, but for the government of Gujarat, celebrating tribals is not a matter of just one day.”
“The tribals of Gujarat are more developed and progressive than the tribals in districts of any other part of India. As a result of Narendra Modi’s development model, the tribals of Gujarat do not fall for any enticements but believe firmly in the development vision of Narendra Modi. The Gujarat tribal community is an inseparable part of Gujarat’s development story. Narendra Modi has brought a new model of tribal development to the world,” he said.
“We have shown how strictly PESA can be implemented, under the guidance of Narendrabhai Modi. As many as 90 lakh tribals from 14 districts, 53 talukas and over 4,000 villages of Gujarat have been bestowed with special rights. We have been giving complete rights to gram panchayats and tribal communities on lands and resources. Under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, we have disposed of 99,129 cases… and over 5.64 lakh acres of land handed over to the tribal owners,” Patel said.
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 chief minister also highlighted the recent election of Droupadi Murmu as the President of the country – the first person belonging to a tribal community to hold the post. “A teacher coming from a backward society and becoming the President of India over time shows that the democratic setup of India is above discrimination in the name of language, caste and gender. It also highlights the BJP’s core working values of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.”
Patel said the government has prioritised promoting the tribal culture of Gujarat across the world by building a national tribal museum in Gujarat’s Rajpipla. “The tribals are connected to nature and are sincerely hard working. So that the culture of tribals of Gujarat becomes world-famous, we are spending Rs 130 crore to build a National Tribal Museum in Kevadia… The government has a complete focus on the health, education, and employment needs of the community and so there are continuous government schemes to benefit the tribals. The overall development of tribals began under Narendra Modi (as CM),” he said.
“The state government has spent Rs 20,745 crore on development projects for tribals in 20 years. The allocation of Rs 100 crore for tribal development has now become Rs 26,056 crore. We have spent a total of Rs 1 lakh crore in Gujarat for the development work of tribals, including for the talent pool, Eklavya schools, health awareness campaigns for sickle cell and irrigation of 11 lakh acres of tribal land. Over 58% of revenue villages in Gujarat’s tribal areas are connected by constructed roads.”
Patel also invoked tribal freedom fighters who fought for India’s freedom struggle and mentioned the construction of the Viranjali Van Pal in Sabarkantha and universities named after Govind Guru and Birsa Munda in Godhra and Rajpipla, respectively.
On the occasion, he also inaugurated the logo of the Birsa Munda Tribal University in Rajpipla and laid the foundation stone for the new office building of the district superintendent of police (Jhalod).