Bhopal: Recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government had launched a massive outreach programme for the development of tribals in Madhya Pradesh. At the same time, it has also cut down over 937 crore budget allocation to the state for tribal development in comparison to 2017-18.
In 2019, when the union government launched PM Kisan Samman Yojana (PMKSY), the Union government diverted a significant share of tribal welfare for the scheme.
The matter came to the fore after a BJP member of Lok Sabha from MP's Balaghat, Dhal Singh Bisen, filed a question over the funds allocated to Madhya Pradesh for tribal welfare in the last five years. In reply to this unstarred question no. 158, on November 29 last month, the Union government said that it had given Rs 3207 crores in 2020-21 to Madhya Pradesh, which is 22.56% less than the 2017-18 budget. The fund was further reduced to Rs 1,718 crore in the half-yearly budget of the current fiscal year.
Funds released by the Union Govt to Madhya Pradesh for Tribal welfare
However, the Modi government, after cutting down the tribal welfare budget, diverted it to PMKSY. As per PMKSY, each registered farmer of the country will receive Rs Rs 6,000 in three instalments. As a result, in 2019-20, the centre diverted Rs 628 to PMKSY for tribal farmers, followed by Rs 1042 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 767 crore in 2021-22. Madhya Pradesh has over 90 lakh registered farmers under PMKSY.
Union government allocates budget to states based on the population of the particular community- SC/ST or minority- it is called the population to proportion budget, said Dr Nilachala Acharya, Research Lead at Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi.
"If the MP's tribal welfare budget was 4,144 crores in 2017-18, then it should surge under incremental budgeting instead of declining," said Acharya.
Commenting on the diversion of tribal welfare funds to PMKSY, Acharya pointed out, "It's a classic case of bypassing the role of states. The centre allocates funds to states, then states deliver them to the beneficiaries. But now the Union government is directly intervening into the state's subject, which is an attack on the country's federal structure."
Despite repeated attempts, Tribal welfare minister Meena Singh, Principal Secretary of Tribal Department Pallavi Jain Govil and tribal department commissioner Sanjeev Singh were unavailable for comments.
BJP's Tribal Outreach Program and Funds
The BJP, which has been in power in Madhya Pradesh since 2003, excluding the 15-month-long rule of Congress in 2018-19, has initiated a massive tribal outreach programme after losing tribal seats in closely contested Assembly elections not only in MP but in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan as well. In the 2018 elections, of the 47 reserved ST seats, the BJP managed to win 16 seats instead of 31 seats it had won in the 2013 Assembly elections. Out of 230 assembly seats in MP, 47 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes, and in 2008, the saffron party won 29 seats.
To woo over 21% tribal voters of Madhya Pradesh, the BJP-led union government has recently declared November 15 as Tribal Pride Day, announced plans to set up museums for tribals and renamed railway stations and colleges after the tribal icons in Madhya Pradesh.
Apart from the Union government, the ruling BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has announced the implementation of the long-pending Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, followed by legalisation of Mohua, a staple drink of the tribals as heritage liquor, withdrawing petty cases registered against tribals. The government also launched home delivery of PDS ration across all 89 tribal blocks.
But in reality, the funds to build homes of tribals under PM Awas Yojana have been cut down by 50% by 2020-21 compared to 2017-18. Similarly, the fund for the Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) of tribal blocks has been trimmed to 78 crores from 222 crores. The funds for the development of particularly vulnerable tribal groups, grants under Article 275 (1) of the Indian Constitution for Tribal Development and Rashtriya Madhyamik Sikcha Abhiyan have been heavily trimmed down, reveals the 44-page reply report of the Union government to BJP Balaghat MP Dhal Singh Bisen.
Funds of major schemes for tribal cut down by GOI
The heavy reduction in tribal welfare budget is evident as schools and health centres are almost defunct in tribal areas, said tribal congress MLA Hiralal Alawa and convenor of Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti.
"The tribals played an important role in making Narendra Modi Prime Minister, but he chose to sell tribal lands to his industrialist friends. Land which falls under the schedule 5 of the constitution was snatched from tribals and either given to the forest department, tiger reserves or for mining not only in MP but across the country," Alawa said.
As far as Madhya Pradesh is concerned, where the BJP has been in power for over 17 years, he said, "Close to 100 crores were given by the union government for tribal sub-plan diverted for Indore metro project in 2018-19. Over Rs 13 crore of tribal welfare were used for organising the grand rally of PM Modi in Bhopal on November 15," he said, adding that out of 47 ST seats, the tribal voters gave 29 MLAs in 2008 and 31 seats in 2013 Assembly elections to the BJP. Still, the saffron party failed to even build roads in tribal blocks and are now doing a stunt of delivering doorstep PDS ration.
Former Home Minister of the State Bala Bacchan pointed out that the seats reserved for tribal candidates in Vidisha Medical College were given to general category candidates.
"The BJP has only betrayed the tribal community. As a result, the migration of tribals is rampant in MP," Bacchan said over the phone.
Tribal dominated districts of Madhya Pradesh like Alirajpur, Jhabua and Barwani were ranked as one of the poorest districts in the recent ranking reports of the NITI Aayog.