Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda on Saturday asking for the inclusion of 160 communities in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list of the State.
The move is seen as opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is making further inroads into the tribal heartland of the eastern state through the election of Draupadi Murmu as President of India.
Since 1978, the government of Odisha has recommended over 160 communities to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for inclusion in the state’s ST list with the approval of the Tribes Advisory Council.
“Due to the delay in their inclusion in the ST list, all these over 160 communities in the state are victims of historic injustice,” wrote Patnaik, who is also the leader of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) party. in power of Odisha. letter.
The development comes three days after the Union Cabinet approved the inclusion of several communities in the ST list of Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu under the 2022 Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Ordinance.
Odisha has 62 tribal communities constituting 22% of the state’s 42 million population.
Of these 160 communities, some are new entries while others are sub-tribes/subsets, synonyms and phonetic variations of existing tribal communities residing in different parts of the state, Patnaik said.
“The Ministry of Tribal Affairs task force in 2014 had recommended nine proposals from Odisha as priority cases for inclusion in the state’s ST list. However, the same has not yet been notified in the presidential order,” Patnaik said. “These communities are deprived of the benefits enjoyed by STs despite having the same tribal characteristics as their respective notified STs.”
The Chief Minister requested Munda to look into the long pending issue and expedite the “programming of these excluded communities” to deliver social justice to them as per the provisions of the Constitutions of India.
Patnaik’s letter comes at a time when the BJP is trying to improve its electoral performance in 2019 when it won eight out of 21 Lok Sabha seats and 23 out of 147 assembly constituencies. “The BJP hopes that the election of Murmu, a tribal woman from Mayurbhanj district, as president will endear herself to the tribals not only of Odisha but also of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh,” a political commentator said, asking not to be named.
In Odisha, one in five voters is tribal and the community has a decisive say in the five constituencies of Nabarangpur, Koraput, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh – Lok Sabha which are reserved for ST candidates. Apart from these five parliamentary constituencies, their population is also high in other districts such as Deogarh (35%), Gajapati (54%), Jharsuguda (30%), Kandhamal (53%), Nuapada (33%), Rayagada ( 56%) and Sambalpur (34%).