Polit bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Brinda Karat, on Sunday said tribals across the country would soon be up in arms against the anti-tribal policy of the BJP-led NDA government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Participating in the two-day national executive meet of the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM), she said people were extremely concerned because of the Modi government’s aggressive offensive on the constitutional and legal provisions protecting tribal lands, symbolised by the T.S.R. Subramanyam Report.
Apart from office-bearers of a dozen organisations representing the interests of the tribal population, those who were present for the meeting were Tripura’s Agriculture & Tribal Affairs Minister Aghor Deb Burma, Tripura Member of Parliament Jitendra Choudhary and AARM chairman Bajubhan Riyan.
The danger was to allow big corporates and other projects into tribal areas without their consent. “Modi’s model of good governance means bulldozing tribal rights. Tribals have a strong leadership and they will fight back,” she warned, adding that she was in town to participate in the meeting as vice-president of AARM, to chalk out an action plan.
Speaking to presspersons during a break, Ms. Brinda Karat said more dangerous was the prospect of the Forest Rights Act being diluted and sabotaged by the NDA government to cater to the interests of a corporate minority. “About 50 per cent of applications from tribals seeking land faced the threat of being ‘deemed closed’ and it was also contemplated that there was ‘no need for consent of tribals’ before giving the go-ahead for mining and other activities in tribal areas,” she expressed regret, warning this would have far-reaching consequences.
The second main issue that was being discussed at the meet was the slashing of allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, from the Rs. 64,000-crore demand this current fiscal to a mere Rs. 33,000 crore. This, she said, would have an adverse, direct impact on the tribals’ livelihood and lead to migration, which would in turn have a cascading effect with tribals being exposed to an urban culture they were ignorant of.
The third aspect being discussed, said MLA Sunnam Rajaiah of the CPI (M) from Bhadrachalam, was the need for the Polavaram project to be suitably doctored before implementation, in the best interests of the tribal population. In its current shape, lakhs of tribals faced the threat of being displaced, he said, stressing the need for the project to be modified before construction was taken up.