This may actually be the most under-reported story of the last two decades. No, I am not talking about just one story or one election. I am talking about a political process that has easily stretched for the last two decades, with hardly any media or academic willing to acknowledge the obvious.
This is the constant movement of India’s tribals towards the BJP. The Sangh has worked on the ground for years to establish a base among tribals. It is difficult to identify a precise “jump off point” at which the drift of tribals towards the BJP strengthened into a wave.
But if I had to, I would pick 2000-2002 as the big inflection point in tribal politics in India, when the sands shifted decisively towards BJP. There were two big things that happened in this period.
The first was the creation of the two tribal dominated states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in 2000. It was the realization of the legitimate aspiration of tribal people across the nation to have states they could consider their own. These aspirations were addressed and accommodated within the national mainstream without letting sub-national identities become a threat to the unity of the country. As time passed, residual feelings of alienation among tribals mostly evaporated… to the point that one could say they almost do not exist today. Mind you that all this was achieved against the best efforts of a marauding missionary mafia.
The second was more of a symptom rather than a cause. The Gujarat riots of 2002 were unique in India in the sense that they swept through the tribal heartland of the state. It showed that a sense of Hindu unity flowed through Gujarat, uniting the city dwellers of Amdavad with the tribals inhabitants of Dang district. In fact, Modi would never have gotten his famous 2002 mandate without the tribal belt of Central Gujarat rallying behind him. In that election, the BJP actually lost seats in every other corner of the state.
(Aside: Without the tribals of Gujarat, the BJP would have lost the just concluded 2017 Gujarat election as well.)
I think I have pointed out numerous times on this blog that BJP has always dominated Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. I don’t know if I have ever emphasized how widespread this phenomenon is and how it applies to tribals across India.
What about Bhil youth of Madhya Pradesh? Last year, Bhil youth sent requests to the Prime Minister asking for permission to volunteer in Jammu and Kashmir; to fight with our Army against stone pelters.
Such stories will cause tremendous acidity to the academics at JNU and other Break India forces, who have always seen tribal identities as a faultline to be exploited. You just have to show them the pride on the faces of the graduating boys and girls of the “Bastariya Brigade,” formed to fight the Communists in their last bastions.
One of the key underpinnings of the BJP’s famous win in Tripura was its tie up with the Indigeneous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), which the ruling CPI(M) (ironically) called anti-national. What the BJP did supremely well was ride Bengali support AND tribal support with elan. The party managed to soothe their mutual anxieties and create a common resistance against the Communists, the *real* enemies of India.
When the BJP made a valiant effort to enter Kerala in 2016, remember that the first doors it knocked on were in the dirt poor tribal area of Kerala. This is the part of Kerala that lives like Somalia, while the rest of the state is fattened on money from Missionaries and the Gulf.
Remember Madhu? The poor man who was tied up like an animal and lynched by tolerant Commies and Islamists? He left behind nothing except a few pots and pans in his hut. And an Indian liberaldom that was complicit in ignoring his death. Madhu belonged to this deprived tribal part of Kerala.
No wonder then that as the BJP floods into Odisha, it does so from the tribal areas of Odisha bordering Chhattisgarh. Coastal Odisha is still very much Navin Patnaik territory.
And there is a reason BJP workers like Ajit Murmu are being slaughtered in Bengal. Notice the name : Murmu. A tribal. There is a reason TMC supporting professors working at top Indian institutions are going on news channels and spouting racist hatred against “outsiders.”
Because in the struggle against Islamist forces, the Bengali tribal has taken the lead versus the Bengali ‘Bhadralok.’
Yes, the fight on the ground has begun from Purulia and Jhargram districts. The tribals are fed up of complaining about the TMC’s fascism. When the people unite, no dictator can stop them. That’s why, even in an election as rigged as Bengal Panchayat polls, the BJP has exceeded 1/3rd of the seats in Purulia and Jhargram. How far is that from a majority, anyway? And what’s going to happen when the TMC cannot use the might of the State Election Commission in the General Election?
The local BJP has also grabbed the moment with both hands. Ever since the day results were announced, the party has been touring tribal areas like there is no tomorrow, holding victory rallies, gathering its supporters, preparing them and keeping them charged up for the elections to come.
Now you know why this story goes under-reported. Because reporting it would force Break India reporters to come face to face with the shallowness of the Brahmin-Baniya tag they do desperately want to stick to BJP.