Prominent tribal leader from Gujarat Mansukhbhai Vasava, who was dropped from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ministerial council, on Tuesday said he had no idea on the reason of his ouster, but admitted that he was working in a hostile environment.
The minister said that three months back, in a letter to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, he had threatened to quit the post if his complaints regarding tribal welfare in the state were not addressed.
“I have no idea why I was asked to leave, will seek clarity from the party high command. As a tribal minister, I did all that was required for the benefit of tribal community and regions, under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Vasava told PTI.
“But I was working in a hostile condition in my own ministry,” he said.
During the Union Cabinet expansion and reshuffle on Tuesdsay, Modi dropped Vasava and in his place inducted another tribal face from the state, Jaswantsinh Bhabhor.
An MP from Bharuch constituency in central Gujarat, Vasava, who held the portfolio of Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, also came out strongly against the Gujarat government for not acting on his repeated pleas to improve the condition of tribals in the state’s eastern belt.
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He said he wanted to bring transparency in the functioning of his ministry, but was not supported in his endeavour. Vasava said he was not happy with the condition of Eklavya model residential schools for tribals, which were funded by the Centre but operated by respective state governments.
“What I found in Gujarat was that the status of school education was pathetic, especially in tribal regions. Children are not getting proper education. There are few permanent teachers, and teachers of Maths, Science and English are found missing from several schools,” he said.
“The Centre’s Eklavya schools are not functioning properly in many states, with Gujarat being among the worst. Being my home state, I was particularly concerned about this and wrote to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel but received no response from her,” he said.
“I also told the Chief Minister that the government was doing nothing for tribals in the state. I told her through a letter written three months ago how tribals were being left out. Being the tribal minister, I don’t like this. I told her that I will resign if the government did not take action in this regard,” he added.
To a question on what kind of a hostile environment was he facing in his ministry, Vasava said his secretary was not following his orders.
“I was working in a hostile condition in my own ministry as the tribal secretary under me, R K Agarwal, was always found to be touring with his family in J&K and Rajasthan without even informing me,” he said.
“I once asked him why he was always touring and not working, to which he did not reply. Then I asked my Cabinet Minister Jual Oram (Union Tribal Affairs Minister) that our tribal secretary keeps touring with his family and sometimes even uses helicopter for the same. When he did not reply, I wrote to the PMO which assured me it will enquire into it,” he said.
“I wanted to bring in transparency in the working of the tribal ministry,” Vasava added.