BJP’s outreach to Rajasthan tribals through Mangarh Dham
The 80-km journey to Mangarh Dham from Aaspur remains challenging; some ongoing roadwork has brought hope to locals
Mangarh Dham: In Rajasthan’s Banswara district, the tribal village of Mangarh Dham echoes fundamental needs of the community like roads, electricity, and water. The village is nestled on the border between Rajasthan and Gujarat and has emerged as an important political focal point in the election for both the BJP and Congress.
Mangarh Dham, framed against a picturesque backdrop of rolling hills and tranquil woodlands, recently came into focus for two significant reasons: It was accorded the title of a national monument, recognising its cultural and historical significance, in November last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the ‘Mangarh Dham ki Gaurav Gatha’ programme.
In his Mann Ki Baat radio programme last month, Modi also remembered Bhil freedom fighter Govind Guru in Banswara apart from the tribals who were massacred by the British army in 1913 in Mangarh in Rajasthan.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too strategically launched the Rajasthan election campaign here in August, emphasising tribal concerns.
On November 17, 1913, during a prolonged standoff at Mangarh Hill, British authorities opened fire on over scores of Bhils and other tribes who, under the leadership of Shri Govind Guru, had peacefully assembled. This episode resulted in a massacre, with nearly 1,500 tribal individuals losing their lives. Mangarh Dham holds deep historical importance for the Bhil community, stemming from the tragic 1913 massacre, which draws a parallel to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 at Amritsar.
The recent designation of Mangarh Dham as a national monument is expected to influence votes. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had earlier voiced concerns, criticising the delay in conferring the title.
There are 17 seats in the tribal region between Dungarpur and Udaipur; BJP won eight, Congress seven, and Bharatiya Tribal Party two in 2018.
The 80-km journey to Mangarh Dham from Aaspur remains challenging; some ongoing roadwork has brought hope to locals.
Sumobhai Pargi, a 60-year-old resident of Beduva village, has modest yet critical expectation from the new government—the installation of a hand pump. Supporting a 12-member family, Sumobhai tends to his small farm, cultivating wheat and maize. “There is a lake nearby but accessing water for his fields remains a challenge. There is no power. All we ask for is a hand pump in our village,” said Pargi.
Mahesh Patel, 28, of Dokar village and a BEd graduate actively is seeking employment from the last few years. “We gave five years to the Congress. Now we should give a chance to the BJP. The memorial set up by Prime Minister Modi is a matter of immense pride for the tribals. It was a long-pending demand from the tribals. Also, we want development projects to come in our area if BJP comes to power,” said Patel, a tribal.
At the Gujarat-Rajasthan border areas like Dungarpur and Banswara, a robust connection with Gujarat thrives. This involves financial transactions, taxi operations, and employment in industries such as ceramics, textiles and diamonds. Additionally, economic ties are strengthened by Udaipur youths contributing to IT services in Gandhinagar.
These areas, marked by their strong ties with Gujarat are being wooed by BJP.
Pratap Rajput, hailing from Dungarpur district, said that he made the decision to migrate to Ahmedabad several years ago in pursuit of a better livelihood.
“Our farm in the village wasn’t very productive, and it was challenging to support my family with it. With little formal education, I explored opportunities in Gujarat after I saw others from my village doing the same. Starting from scratch, after 15 years, I now own two taxis and can even afford college education for my two daughters,” said Rajput, who supports his family of six residing in Rajasthan.
Tribal parties like Bharatiya Tribal Party and Bharatiya Adivasi Party aim for tribal votes in all 17 seats.
Chunnilal Katara, a 46-year-old from Vanda village, despite holding multiple degrees, drives an autorickshaw. He admires the work done by the Congress and does not like the trend of government being changed every five years in Rajasthan. Katara points out that the issue of migration is worrisome and needs to be addressed through industry-friendly initiatives that create local employment.
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