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BJP, Congress, and Bharat Adivasi Party: What Results Mean For Rajasthan Tribals

Newly formed Bharat Adivasi Party won three seats in Rajasthan. What does it mean?

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Results for the 2023 Rajasthan Assembly elections were declared on Sunday, 3 December. Winning 115 out of 200 Assembly seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) comfortably defeated the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress party.

Of its 200 Assembly seats, 25 seats in the state are reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category. These include constituencies such as Bassi, Sapotra, Dungarpur, Banswara, Aspura, and Sagwara among others.

A quick analysis of the results shows that out of all ST reserved constituencies the Congress and BJP won 11 seats each. Three seats were won by the newly formed Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP — a breakaway faction of Gujarat-based Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP).

What does this mean for the future of tribal politics in Rajasthan?

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First, Let's Take a Closer Look at the Results

The three seats won by BAP include Dhariawad, Aspur, and Chorasi.

  • In Dhariawad, Thavar Chand defeated BJP's Kanhaiya Lal with a margin of over 6,000 votes.

  • In Aspur, Umesh Meena defeated BJP's Gopichand with a margin of over 28,000 votes.

  • In Chorasi, Rajkumar Roat won over one Lakh votes. At 41,000 votes BJP's Sushil Katara was a distant second.

Now a two-time MLA, Roat in 2018 was the youngest member of the Rajasthan state Assembly.

In terms of vote share, BAP candidates got 37.67 percent votes in a Dhariawad, 46.7 percent votes in Aspur, and 53.92 percent votes in Chorasi.

In Ghatol, the BAP candidate Ashok Kumar lost to Congress' Nanalal Ninama by a narrow margin of just over 3,000 votes.

The Split Between BAP and BTP

Formed in 2017, the BTP was floated by Gujarat-based tribal leader and former member of Janata Dal (United), Chhotubhai Vasava. Barely a few months later, with support from the Bhil community, one of India's largest adivasi communities, BTP won two seats in the Gujarat state Assembly elections.

In 2018, it contested on 11 seats in Rajasthan and won from Chorasi and Sagwara, both in Dungarpur district.

Five years on, in 2023, Rajasthan-based adivasi groups, previously associated with the BTP, floated the BAP.

Chorasi and Sagwara MLAs — elected on BTP ticket — also joined the new party.

What Next?

Rallies held by the BAP in the run-up to the polls established that the party enjoys a huge support among the adivasi youth in several constituencies with jobs, migration, and forest rights being their key election issues.

Several BAP supporters The Quint spoke with early October voiced their concerns about elder members in the family voting for either Congress or BJP. They also said that BJP's attempts at saffronising the tribal voters is paying dividends in Rajasthan.

Despite this, with BAP having increased its seat tally since 2018, tribal politics in Rajasthan is up for interesting years ahead.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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