Holding the Centre responsible for allegedly delaying the inclusion of 169 communities in Odisha in the ST list, the ruling BJD Friday dubbed BJP as “anti-tribal” and held it responsible for neglecting them.
The allegation was made by BJD state general secretary Pradeep Majhi, who is also the party’s tribal face in southern Odisha.
The BJP rejected outright BJD's claim of neglecting the tribals of Odisha.
The regional party's allegation coincided with Odisha’s veteran tribal leader and former chief minister Giridhar Gamang quitting the saffron party and joining the Bharat Rastra Samithi of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhhar Rao in Hyderabad.
“Though the state government has been repeatedly requesting the BJP-led government at the Centre to include 169 communities in the Odisha ST list, it has ignored it,” Majhi told reporters at a press conference here.
The saffron party's defeat in all 30 districts of the state in the zilla parishad poll a year ago could be due to its double standards on the issue, he said.
“While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is fighting for the rights of the communities, the BJP is only shedding crocodile tears,” Majhi said and demanded immediate steps for inclusion of these 169 communities in the ST list.
Patnaik is working for the development and welfare of tribals in the state and his BJD government has provided five lakh tribal girl children with hostels. Special Development Councils have been set up nine tribal-dominated districts of the state covering 117 blocks, 2022 gram panchayats, 18687 villages and 14.05 lakh scheduled tribe households, he said.
The BJP on the other hand has always neglected the tribals in Odisha and its subsequent governments at the Centre have neglected the 169 communities depriving them of the facilities being given to STs, he asserted.
The state government's proposals for inclusion of the communities in the ST list of Odisha are pending with the ministry of tribal affairs.
On September 16 2022, Patnaik wrote to Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda to consider the inclusion of Pauri Bhuyan, Chuktia Bhunjia, Durua, Dhurua, Dhurava, Uram, Dhangara, Oram/Uraon, Oraon Mudi and many others in the ST list but it is yet to get the Centre's nod.
On October 10 the same year, the union tribal affairs ministry was urged to include 20 communities, including Tomodia Bhumij, Tamadia Bhumij, Tamundia Bhumij, Tamulia Bhumij in the ST list of Odisha but the Centre remained non-responsive, Majhi said.
The issue was also raised by Patnaik at several national fora and he wrote to the Centre on many occasions, he said.
Rejecting the charges, BJP state general secretary and spokesperson Golak Mohapatra said, “BJD’s allegation is just an eye wash. All the tribal programmes are run with funding by the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives adequate importance to tribals and therefore a tribal woman is the country's president and a tribal man from Odisha is a union minister.”
President Droupadi Murmu hails fron Rairangpur in Odisha and Bisheshwar Tudu, who is the BJP MP from Mayurbhanj district, is the union minister of state for Jal Shakti and tribal affairs.