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As the exercise to consolidate the voter base gains momentum in the state ahead of crucial assembly elections later this year, tribal population seem to be the flavour of the season in Gujarat.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a slew of developmental projects in Dahod and attended “Adijati Maha Sammelan” last month, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Supremo Arvind Kejriwal addressed a meeting of the tribal community in Bharuch along with Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) Chief Chhotu Vasava in Bharuch on May 1.

On May 10, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi is expected to address a major tribal event in Dahod. Interestingly, simultaneously BJP is holding a three day convention of its tribal MPs at Statue of Unity in Kevadia, nit too far from Dahod which is expected to be attended by all the tribal MPs of the party.

Gujarat has approximately 14.8% of tribal population with as many as 27 seats reserved for the scheduled tribes. Back in 2017, the ruling party could not manage to retain even half of these 27 seats that has led to an extra impetus this time around.

Traditionally, tribal population in the state had been a strong voter base for Congress. However over the last two decades, BJP managed to significantly dislodge the party and make its inroads into the tribal belt of the state, that runs from Ambaji in the north to Umbergaon in south along the eastern border of the state.

“We have been working with the tribals for a long time and our outreach is nothing new,” said Yamal Vyas, the Spokesperson of BJP. “Through Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and others, the forceful conversions etc have been brought to a halt and development has now been percolation all across the belt,” he added.

However, on May 1, Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the tribal population in the state has been facing exploitation since independence and years before that.

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