Tribals offer blood samples to counter Rajasthan minister Madan Dilawar’s aspersions on religion

Dilawar had said that if Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP) leader does not consider himself Hindu, a DNA test should be done to verify whether he is actually the son of a Hindu.
Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 15:15 IST

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Jaipur: Tribals led by Banswara MP, Rajkumar Roat today protested in a unique way by offering their blood samples here against Rajasthan education minister Madan Dilawar’s controversial statement casting aspersions on whether tribals are indeed “Hindus.”

The protests were sparked off after Roat had said in an interview that tribals were distinct from Hindus as they followed different rituals, culture and traditions and followed a belief that is distinct from Hinduism. Reacting to it, Dilawar had said that if Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP) leader does not consider himself Hindu, a DNA test should be done to verify whether he is actually the son of a Hindu. Following this, angry tribals had vowed to offer the minister their blood samples to test. However they were stopped by the police today and the entire area was cordoned off. Slogans against the minister were raised. The police collected the blood samples, which were later returned.  

The protesting tribals then gathered at the Shahid Samarak’s protest site in the heart of the city, where Roat talked about handing over the samples to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Parliament. Roat said this issue is not going to die down easily as it would be raised in the Assembly and in the Parliament too. Congress MLA from Gangapur, Ramkesh Meena was also present at the site. 

Roat said, “There is a general feeling that the tribal community is poor, lives in the hills, so anything can be said about them. We are not going to rest till the minister apologises and tenders his resignation. We would definitely raise the issue in the Assembly and Parliament."

Dilawar, with a strong RSS background, and known to make controversial statements, on the other hand, is said to have climbed down, saying tribals have always been considered as Hindus and will continue to do so. 

BJP is a bit jittery with five  by-elections coming up in Jhunjhunu, Dausa, Deoli-Uniara, Khimwsar and Chaurasi Assembly constituencies which have a sizable tribal population and may affect the outcome of the results. Tribals account for more than 13 per cent of the total population. BJP could only win 11 out of the total 25 Lok Sabha seats in 2024 after clean sweeps the last two elections.

BAP has emerged as a popular and powerful party in the tribal-dominated southern Rajasthan.  It was formed shortly before the December 2023 Assembly polls after a split in the six-year old Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) under the leadership of Roat, who is just 32. The party has positioned itself as a crusader for tribal rights and demands access to education , healthcare, environment and land. Its focus is on people-centric policies and calls itself as the first environment-friendly party working in the interest of water, forest, land, bio-diversity, nature and indigenous people. Incidentally Roat took his oath as MP in the name of nature.   

BAP contested 27 seats in the Assembly elections and won three out of the 200. Roat, who won the Chaurasi seat, gave it up to contest the Banswara seat against Congress turncoat and highly influential tribal leader Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, who joined BJP, just before the polls. He defeated Malviya by a margin of 2,47,054 votes and with a  vote share of 50.15 per cent.

Published 29 June 2024, 15:15 IST

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