Awareness might boost ST voting

Distribution of voter slips has helped, say tribals; good enrollment recorded

Mysore district has a Scheduled Tribe population of around 2,71,000. This includes primitive tribes such as Jenu Kurubas and Kadu Kurubas, who’s number range from 43,000-45,000, distributed in 215 Haadis of the district.

Despite attempts to bring them to the mainstream, tribals in the past had responded poorly to polls. According to Muzaffar Assadi, Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, ST turn-out for elections has not been more than 45-50 per cent in the past, with a lesser voter turn out among primitive tribes.

“A majority of ST’s who have been employed as labourers, have been deprived of voting rights, as they keep moving from one place to another. Primitive tribes had not been sensitised about elections,” he said.

However, reactions from members of primitive tribes hint that tribals might turn out in large numbers during the upcoming Assembly polls. “We are all citizens of India and have a right to exercise our franchise in the polls,” said Rajappa, President of Shettyalli-Lakkapattna Girijana Punarvasathi Samithi.

A meeting of prominent tribal leaders of Haadis in the district was held recently. Leaders from Haadis lying close to the forest such as Balle, Bholur, Macchur, Anemala in Hunsur, Ayyankere Hundi, Billana Hosahalli and Kappalakatte Haadi in H D Kote taluk had participated.

“We have urged them to convince people of their Haadis the importance of voting,” he said. He said that tribals eligible for voting have enrolled in good numbers for elections, and in a few Haadi’s Voter Identity Slips too have been distributed.

Uneducated

Prakash, a resident of Shettyhalli in H D Kote, speaking to Deccan Herald said that since many tribals were uneducated they did not know how to even apply for Voter Identity Slip (VIS)s. However, with the Election Commission of India directing the district administration to distribute VIS door to door, it has benefitted the tribals and has stimulated them to vote, he said.

Even though SVEEP programme of the district administration has reached only Grama Panchayats and not the Haadis located inside Reserve Forests, handbills creating awareness on voting has been distributed in such Haadis, he added.

Shivanna, President of Hunsur Taluk Budakattu Krishikara Sangha said that though tribal community was facing several problems, including blatant violations of Forest Rights Act, he was hopeful that tribals voting in large numbers would allow them to raise demands with the elected representatives.

Despite such measures and programmes to boost voter turn out, there are fears that polling percentage of primitive tribes might decrease, as few have migrated to nearby districts as labourers, while the rest may skip polls due to the long distances to the polling booths.

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