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The Hindu
The Hindu

Ahead of Gujarat polls, Kejriwal promises sops for tribals

Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal on August 7 promised implementation of the Constitution’s Fifth Schedule and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act in tribal regions of Gujarat if the AAP is voted to power in the State.

Mr. Kejriwal also promised that Gujarat’s tribal advisory committee would be headed by a person from the community instead of the Chief Minister, as has been the case in the State.

He claimed the Gujarat Assembly elections, due later this year, will be a direct contest between the ruling BJP and the AAP.

Talking to reporters in Vadodara before addressing a rally in tribal-dominated Chhota Udepur district, Mr. Kejriwal also said that if AAP comes to power in Gujarat, each tribal village will get a good government school and a “mohalla clinic”.

Multi-speciality hospitals will also be set up in the region for free treatment of tribals, the Delhi Chief Minister said.

He also promised simplification of the caste certificate issuance process and houses to those who do not own one.

The government will also connect tribal villages with roads, he said.

The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with provisions related to the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes.

The PESA Act was enacted by Parliament in 1996 to ensure self-governance for people living in scheduled areas. The States were required to formulate rules for the effective implementation of the Act to strengthen gram sabhas in scheduled areas.

Mr. Kejriwal said despite 75 years of independence, tribals have remained backward.

“They are remembered before elections and have only been exploited by all. The Constitution provides for a separate system for tribals because the community has a different culture and is very backward,” he said.

No government is ready to implement provisions made for them in the Indian Constitution because they are always eager to usurp their natural resources, Mr. Kejriwal claimed on the second day of his two-day visit to Gujarat.

“We will implement provisions of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution word to word. We will also strictly implement the PESA Act which says no government can take action in a tribal area without the gram sabha’s consent,” he said.

“There is a tribal advisory committee. Its work is to oversee the development of tribal regions, how to utilise funds. The law says the tribal advisory committee chairman will be a tribal. In Gujarat, the Chief Minister heads the committee. This will be stopped,” he said.

Mr. Kejriwal said tribals will also be provided employment and free electricity which he has guaranteed for everyone in Gujarat.

He claimed the forthcoming Gujarat Assembly election will be a direct contest between the BJP and AAP.

“So many Congress leaders have joined the BJP, many more will flock the saffron party, and the remaining will join the BJP after the election. It is more or less a merger of the Gujarat Congress into the Gujarat BJP,” he further claimed.

“The ILU [I love you] politics between the two parties has come to an end. Now it will be politics of people, which is what the AAP does,” he said.

Mr. Kejriwal said while on one hand is the BJP’s “misgovernance” of 27 years [in the State], corruption and incidents of spurious liquor, on the other hand is a “new politics [of AAP] with new faces and new hope”.

“I guarantee you that we will make the future of your children. But if you vote them to power, they will offer you spurious liquor,” he said.

“Because they [BJP] are worried [of the outcome] in Gujarat, they harass us [AAP leaders] in Delhi,” he alleged.

Asked about the AAP’s chief ministerial face in Gujarat, Mr. Kejriwal said every person is his party’s CM face.

“Every Gujarati will be the CM. We have come up with a new hope, new politics. Ours is the first party that talks of honesty,” he said.

Can any other party talk about honesty, promise to construct schools? he asked.

“If we can construct schools in five years [of AAP governance in Delhi], why can’t they [other parties]? But they will not do because their intention is not right,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

On the “revari” [sweet] or freebies that he has been promising during his campaigning, Mr. Kejriwal claimed the BJP government waived “₹10 lakh crore of its friends” and wants to waive more, but is short of money.

“So, they now say there is no need for free education and hospitals. I would like to ask the people of the country whether it is right to provide free education to your children or waive loans of their friends?” he said targeting the political opponents.

Without naming anyone, he also demanded a probe into whether people whose loans were waived offered donations to the party. “Whether the loans were waived for free or something happened?” he asked.

Mr. Kejriwal said he had faith in the Supreme Court which was hearing a plea related to freebies offered by political parties.

The AAP convener said he does not oppose any political party or its leaders and all he does is work for the people.

“Can anyone object to me over the issue of construction of schools for children? I had made an open offer that whoever wants to learn from me — whether he is the Chief Minister of BJP or Congress [-ruled State] — come and learn, our country is one,” he said.

Mr. Kejriwal also referred to a “survey”, claiming 99% people in Gujarat agreed to have free education, 97% wanted free medical treatment, and 91% said they would like to have free electricity.

“Even the survey shows what we are announcing is liked by the people,” he said.

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