Dropped from the Union Council of Ministers Tuesday, Mansukhbhai Vasava, who was Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, slammed the governments at the Centre and in Gujarat, alleging he was ousted by the troika of Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and state Finance Minister Saurabh Patel who had “complained to the Prime Minister” about him.
He told The Indian Express that “nobody will dare to speak the truth” about “the manner in which the party and the government got me to resign”.
Claiming there were “differences” over his “demands for tribals”, Vasava, who is the BJP MP from Bharuch, said: “Gujarat Chief Minister, Saurabhbhai, my Cabinet minister, they all complained to the PM against me.”
He said he had been “anticipating” his ouster.
“The manner in which the party and the government got me to resign, I think nobody will dare to speak the truth. I was functioning in a transparent manner about which the party and the government have been talking. I used to draw everyone’s attention to anything wrong,” he said.
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He said he was dropped for speaking his mind on a “number of unresolved issues of tribals, particularly in Gujarat”.
He said the Centre did not hold a tribal festival this year though it used to be an annual feature. “It was because a tender in that regard was awarded to an undeserving party. When the Prime Minister came to know about this, he immediately got the tender cancelled. But who was responsible for allotting the tender to that party?”
Vasava said he had been insisting that both the state and Centre, where the BJP is in power, must “work to implement” the Adivasi Adhikar Patra (tribal rights charter) prepared by BJP leaders of Gujarat under the leadership of the late Suryakant Acharya.
“That charter included implementation of a range of developmental works for tribals in Gujarat like irrigation, education, modern hospitals etc. Promises made in the charter could have been implemented easily given that the BJP is in power both at the Centre and state. But that did not happen,” he said.
He attacked the Anandiben government for not doing enough for tribals. “The level of education in tribal areas of Gujarat is very low… There are no teachers in higher secondary schools, colleges don’t have professors, government clinics don’t have doctors… they should be made available. The central and state governments should coordinate to provide facilities.”
Vasava also had a run-in with Shyam S Agarwal, Secretary in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, who he claimed did not respond to his letters. He said he had written to Jual Oram and the PMO about the “behaviour” of Agrawal.
Vasava, sources said, sent letters to Agarwal on February 25, March 23, April 14, May 27 and June 10 this year to discuss issues related to the ministry. Sources said he had also called for tour reports of the Secretary, questioning why his family accompanied him on these tours, and his “lack of interest” in developmental programmes.
According to sources, Vasava got an assurance from the PMO that his grievance would be looked into and he would get full cooperation.
When The Indian Express sought his comments on Vasava’s complaint, Agarwal said: “There was some delay in responding to his letters. But once it came to my notice, I sorted it out. It is no issue now.”