Pradeep Pattanayak

With the Lok Sabha and the Odisha Legislative Assembly elections fast approaching, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been doling out a plethora of schemes and freebies. Of them, there are some major announcements for the one-crore tribal population as well. 

Before understanding what prompted the conch party to announce schemes and yojanas for the tribal population, let’s have a look what are the major announcements the ruling BJD dispensation has made. 

First, on November 14, 2023, the cabinet approved the proposal to amend the Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (By Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1956 on the basis of the recommendation of the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) in its meeting dated July 11, 2023.

Upon facing backlash for its decision, on November 24, it was decided in the cabinet meeting that the matter be referred back to the TAC for reconsideration. 

And on January 29, the Odisha cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved the proposal for withdrawal of the cabinet nod to the proposed amendment of the Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (By Scheduled Tribes) Regulation.

Second, the Odisha government in its cabinet meeting approved the LABHA scheme-(Laghu Bana Jatya Drabya Kraya) to ensure MSP for MFP (minimum support price for minor forest produce). While briefing the media, the Chief Secretary had then categorically said the steps taken would lead to the empowerment of about one crore tribal people in the state. 

Third, the state government also approved the proposal for the establishment of the Commission for Preservation and Promotion of Tribal Languages of Scheduled Tribes of Odisha. This Commission will encourage multilingual education, document and preserve tribal languages, promote the use of those languages, and protect linguistic rights. 

Fourth, the Odisha cabinet also passed a resolution for the inclusion of 169 communities in the Scheduled Tribes list of Odisha.
What led the BJD-led government to send out a message that it is with the tribals?

If the speculations of the political pundits are anything to go by, the BJD is scared of the BJP’s ever-increasing popularity in the tribal pockets. 

The recently published survey report by The Federal has also somewhat echoed the speculations of these political analysts. 
According to the survey report, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Odisha, the conch party will meet its nemesis in the saffron party. The BJP is expected to bag 20 out of the 21 seats, leaving the BJD to be satisfied with just one seat. 

Also Read: Our govt is in Centre, our govt will be in Odisha as well: Rajnath Singh

The poll survey recently conducted by TIMES NOW has also painted a grim picture for the ruling conch party. 

It pointed out that out of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP will win 11 seats while 9 seats will go to the BJD's kitty and the Congress will end up with one seat.  

As per the survey, the vote percentage for the BJD is estimated at 40.4 while for the BJP it has been predicted to be 44.8 percent. And, the Congress’ vote share would be confined to 9.6 percent while it will be 5.2 percent for other parties.

Now, questions arise that in the face of such a growing popularity of the BJP, will the freebies and schemes work for the BJD and will it be able to woo voters, particularly tribal ones.