Tribals of south, central Gujarat may put CM on slippery wicket

Written by Mukesh Ranjan | Surat, Dec 12 | Updated: Dec 13 2007, 05:17am hrs
The tribals of south and central Gujarat are otherwise disenchanted with the Modi and want to vote against, as they blame the state government has not done anything.

But the contradictory signal given by the Hari Vallabh Parikh Ashram in their areas and fast emerging leader from among them Ganesh Devi has made things tricky for both the BJP and the Congress.

The Ashram, started by late Hari Ballabh Parikh in 1960 in Rampur of Vadodra district for the upliftment of tribals, has an established network with substantial influence. Interestingly, the Ashram continues to be with BJP, as its functionaries are active participats in elections.

But Devi has given an undesirable twist for both the Congress and BJP in the Gujarat's current round of political theatre by giving a call to boycott elections to protest the implementation (2006) of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002 for which he thinks Congress is responsible.

The Act bans tribals from gathering non-timber forest produce such as honey, wild herbs and fruits for commercial purposes from the forest.

Till the ban was implemented, the tribals had unhindered rights to collect these non-timber forest produce and sell them to their own body LAMPs (Large-scale Adivasi Multipurpose Society).

The LAMPs purchase the produce and it would auction it to the highest bidder, generally traders, who sell the produce to various industries.