March 21, 2021 4:23:58 am
Objecting to the usage of words like “vanvasi” and “vanbandhu” while referring to tribals of Gujarat, the Opposition Congress Saturday asked the state government to refer to the community as “adivasis” and issue acircular in the matter.
During the Question Hour of the state Assembly, Congress MLA Anantkumar Patel sought to know if the government had issued any circular banning the use of words “vanbandhu” and “vanvasi” for referring to the “adivasis” of the state. Party MLA Chandrikaben Bariya also claimed these two words “hurt the sentiments” of the tribal community.
Claiming that the BJP had not coined these words, state Forest and Tribal Welfare Minister Ganpat Vasava said these have been in usage even during the Congress regime. “During the Congress rule in 1976, the Van Vikas Nigam was created. In this, the Congress government used the term ‘vanvasi’. In 2006, when the Congress government was at the Centre, they used the words ‘forest-dwelling schedules tribes’. So, these terms have been used only for schemes for the tribal community,” the minister told the House.
It is the Congress, Vasava said, which is “feeling hurt” as under the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana, Rs 97,000 crore was spent in tribal areas where round-the-clock power, irrigation and drinking water was provided. “In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and in recently concluded local body elections in Gujarat, the Congress lost badly in the tribal areas. Now we have come up with phase two of Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana, where Rs 1 lakh crore provision has been made for the next five years. I feel they (the Opposition) are afraid of the 2022 state Assembly elections,” Vasava said.
Vasava said, “These terms are not derogatory. These are respectable words. We are using them in naming our welfare schemes.”
Congress MLA Anil Joshiyara, however, said, “The word ‘vanvasi’ is nowhere used in the Constitution. The government has not issued any circular for using these terms. ‘Vanvasi’ means those living in a forest. It means ‘jungali’ (wild). Our objection is there. We are not ‘jungali’, we are adivasis and we are the original inhabitants of this country.”
Intervening, Speaker Rajendra Trivedi pointed out: “It is you who is using this word (jungali).” Joshiyara, who continued to speak, said: “Please do not call us ‘vanvasi’. We have no objection if anyone calls us adivasi. I request the Chief Minister to issue a circular for not using these words.”
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