Revival of the Adivasi Politics in Madhya Pradesh — JAYS and GGP

India attained its independence in the year of 1947 and then came the challenge of constructing the newly independent nation as an electoral democracy. The first general elections in India was held in 1951-52 over a four-month period. It was the biggest experiment in the democracy that history had ever witnessed. With the hurdles of neo-colonial forces, poverty, communalism, diversity, illiteracy, caste, the critics were skeptical about electoral democracy as a successful form of government in India. But the early years of the 50’s witnessed a miracle of enduring the challenges and establishing democracy in India. The first political parties to contest the general elections were namely the Congress, the CPI, the Socialist Party, Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party(KMPP), independents backed by the local zamindars and the lineages of the princely states, and the Jan Sangh (though the Sangh was accused of spreading communal violence, and the RSS was banned for a period of 3 years for spreading communal hatred that lead to assassination of Gandhi).

Undoubtedly, the Indian democracy is one the most dynamic and most diverse political and social phenomenon in the social reality with unmatched dialectical turbulence and Machiavellian dynamism. Since the years of 51’ several new political parties have emerged both at the national as well as the local level. Some have emerged as a reaction to hegemonic oligarchy of the savarna bourgeoisie over the Indian political scenario such as the likes of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The likes of BSP and DMK were formed and mobilized on the lines of oppressed caste and self-respect movement and ideology and have been well-established in the mainstream political arena. Despite such parties emerging to voice interests of the oppressed groups and population, it can be very clearly noticed that to this date, the tribal or the Adivasi community is still marginalized with almost negligible representation in the Indian political scenario.

But the scenario in Madhya Pradesh is changing. Madhya Pradesh has about 20.3% Adivasi population comprising mainly of the Bhils and the Gonds and both of them are mobilizing. Madhya Pradesh is witnessing a revival of the Adivasi politics. The key players in this new wake are the Gondwana Ganatantra Party (GGP) and Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS).

JAYS, already a household name in the Madhya Pradesh, was founded by Dr. Hiralal Alawa who holds strong views against forgetting the Adivasi roots and assimilating into the urban middle class after benefitting from the system of reservation. Alawa himself left the prestigious AIIMS, Delhi, to voice the marginalization of the Adivasi population. Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti started off as a Facebook page by Alawa in 2012 has today almost assumed the dimension and role of a socio-political movement centered around Kukshi, Alawa’s home tehsil in Madhya Pradesh. Similar to the lines of Periyar’s self-respect movement for the backward and oppressed castes, Alawa spearheaded JAYS to instill self-esteem and respect among the Adivasi population, especially the youth. According to Alawa, “We are treated as animals, yet we do jai-jai of others. It is time we began praising ourselves.” Alawa’s vision found resonance among the Adivasi youth who have already benefited from the system of reservation or are preparing to take government or competitive examinations.

On the other hand, the Gondwana Ganatantra Party materialized in 1991 to carve out a homeland for the Gond tribe, a Gondowana state in the Mahakaushal region. Though the GGP then did not meet with extraordinary success, it did succeed to win the over the interests of the tribal population and draw them away from assimilating into the BSP trend by creating a cause and a separate identity platform for them. Geographically, the GGP has emerged as the party of the Gonds in the east while the Adivasi movement JAYS is rooted in the rest of the Bhil youth predominantly in the western fringes of Malwa.

In the current socio-political conditions where the governments are indiscriminately giving away lands to the large industrial and mining groups, it becomes absolutely necessary for groups such as the JAYS and the GGP to step up and push forward with their agendas of upholding the forest rights, and arrest of those responsible for the displacement of the tribals for development projects. While the GGP pushes forward for perpetuation of the coexistence of the tribals with nature, the larger agenda of the JAYS seeks employment, better education, resources, sanitation and healthcare for the marginalized population and well-drafted and implemented rehabilitation programs for the tribal communities if they are caught in the cross-fire of essential development projects in the forest belts.

Picture Credits : wikipedia

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