WITH ALL leaders of Chhattisgarh tribal organisation Sarva Adivasi Samaj — barring its vice-president — boycotting the event, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday addressed a rally in Raipur and said that tribals are the core of identity for Indians.
“When we say adivasi, then that is our core identity. We are their children,” Bhagwat said during his 50-minute address before a gathering of RSS workers.
While Sarva Adivasi Samaj vice-president Mohan Tekam was the chief guest, other leaders had on Sunday announced their decision to boycott the event. They accused the RSS of attempting to fuse together Hindu and adivasi identities.
Asked about the boycott from most leaders of the adivasi association, BJP spokesperson Sachidanand Upasne said that as Bhagwat mentioned, all “misconceptions” of sceptics in the organisation will be removed if they attend RSS shakhas. “They should come and be involved with the Sangh. It will remove everything that has been filled in their mind by (other) political entities.”
Tribals constitute more than 30 percent of Chhattisgarh’s population, and the Congress has had an upper hand over the years in tribal-dominated Bastar and Ambikapur out of the state’s five divisions. Bhagwat’s address is being seen as a bid to woo the community ahead of the elections likely later this year.
Bhagwat said what binds India together is its “sanskriti” (culture), and that people from Afghanistan to Burma, and Tibet to Sri Lanka, have the same forefathers.
“Even though we see different pictures, our forefathers were the same…from 40,000 years ago,” he told RSS workers at the rally. “From Afghanistan to Burma, and from the slopes of Tibet in China to Sri Lanka in south, the DNA of the people say their forefathers are the same. This is something that connects us.”
Referring to religious conversion, an issue close to the heart of BJP and RSS leaders, Tekam said at the rally, “Attempts are being made to break the adivasi samaj. The Gond (tribal community) samaj have been kings; they have given their lives for the country. Some people are trying to convert our adivasi samaj to other religions. We are constantly trying to stop this and educate the adivasi people.”
Tekam also blamed the BJP-led administration in the state for harassment meted out to adivasis, especially in Bastar. “In Bastar division, Maoists, and also the administration, harass the adivasi samaj. People from the community are honest but they are being misled, and atrocities are being committed against them. I want to request Mohan Bhagwat that the Sangh should think about adivasis and work for them the same way it is working for the country.”
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