BJP chief Amit Shah in his blog showered praise on the Jharkhand government which had decided to pay homage to patriots by starting development work in their villages, instead of offering floral tributes. While writing about Jharkhand in his blog, Shah also mentioned Gujarat and his home state government’s budget allocation percentage for development of tribal areas. In election-bound Gujarat, 14 of the 33 districts have a sizeable tribal population. The BJP government there is facing opposition from several sections, among them Patidars, and Shah’s tribal outreach comes at a critical time for the party.
About Jharkhand, Shah wrote that tribals would finally get swaraj and suraj (good governance) that they missed out on after Independence in 1947. Shah had visited Jharkhand some time ago and gone to Ulihatu, the village of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda. Under the Shaheed Vikas Gram Yojana, the state government has undertaken all-round development of the villages of patriots.
Shah mentioned in the blog that nine per cent of the population of India are tribals and in Assembly election-bound Gujarat, his home state, there are 14 districts with substantial tribal population. “Today 14.75% of the state budget in Gujarat is for the development of tribal areas,” he wrote. He rued that despite their rich contribution during the freedom struggle, tribal leaders such as Birsa Munda, Sidho Kano, Pitambar, Nilambar never got their due from historians. He also blamed the “remoteness and neglect of earlier governments” for tribal neglect.
“In the last 70 years, governments have exploited the rich natural resources of the tribal areas to the hilt but because of faulty policies the tribal areas never benefited from that largesse. Jungles and mountains were ransacked but neither was the infrastructure in these areas developed, nor efforts made for conservation of the environment. So while tribals’ natural resources were exploited, neither did their income increase nor did they get access to basic facilities. As a result tribals lagged in the development race,” Shah wrote.
“Under the Banbandhu Kalyan Yojana started in 2014 by the Modi government, a lot of work is being done in tribal areas…. The Modi government removed the policy barriers that prevented resource-rich areas from benefiting from the income they generate,” he added.
“Through amendments to the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, district mineral foundations were set up for welfare of mining areas. Using 10 per cent of the mining royalty, a Prime Minister Mining Area Welfare Scheme was set up. It gives me great pleasure to say that district mineral foundations have so far received Rs 9,100 crore, which will be used in development of mining areas where large numbers of tribals live,” he said.