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Rajasthan Elections: Condition of Nomadic Communities and Neglect by Political Parties

The community is facing many problems concerning food, education, health and employment. No political party or government has paid heed to their concerns.

Rajasthan Assembly elections are just around the corner. Every political party is making promises and guarantees to woo different sections of voters. Amidst all this, neither BJP nor Congress seems to be getting anything out of the box for the approximately 55 lakh nomadic and Banjara community members in Rajasthan.

The community was similarly ignored in the 2018 Assembly elections. Major political parties limited the concerns of the community to a single line in their respective manifestos

According to the 2011 census, there are 52 communities belonging to nomadic society in Rajasthan. Among them, Nat, Bhat, Bhopa, Banjara, Kalbeliya, Gadiya, Lohar, Gawariya, Bazigar, Kalandar, Bahrupiya, Jogi, Bawariya, Marwariya, Sathiya and Raibari are the prominent ones.

Lack of ID Cards

Many activists associated with Ghumantu Sajha Manch told NewsClick that not all people in the community have access to an Aadhaar card or other identity cards to avail of government services. Voter ID cards also get made only during elections. One reason for this is that these people keep moving from one place to another for their livelihood, due to which officials harass them further regarding documents.

Vijendra Banjara, an activist of the community, says that no government has done anything for the community.

"Before Vasundhara Raje, when the Congress government was in power, the Nomad Board was formed, and a budget of Rs 50 lakh was also passed. But there is no specific information about what happened to this budget. When the Vasundhara government came to power, nothing happened with the board. Ashok Gehlot's government also did not show any interest when it came to power. Our condition was bad during the lockdown, yet government help was not extended. Now it has been heard that the Chief Minister has constituted aNomad Board for the Banjara community, but hardly anyone knows its budget and who is its chairperson."

Renke Commission Report Yet to be Implemented

According to the Renke Commission report of 2008, 98% of the nomads across the country live without land, 57% live in huts, and 72% do not have their identity documents. 94% of nomads are not included in the BPL category. However, even after more than a decade, no action has been taken on this report.

Many Banjara activists belonging to the Raika community raise the issue of the lack of political representation from the community, which leads to political neglect.

Lakhs of homeless nomads live in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. There are about 17 such nomad settlements in the city where more than 3,300 families live. Apart from this, a large number also live in Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Marwar and Pushkar. They also keep their cattle with them.

Parties have promised land leases at concessional rates and including the community in the BPL list. However, the community does not have the money to buy land even at concessional rates. The nomads do not even have land for cremation and animal sheds. Some people have definitely joined the BPL category, but there is no provision for their education and health.

According to Gajendra, a camel farmer who belongs to the nomadic community, most of the nomadic people have no place to live.

"The government has not been able to give any land lease even after many years of promises. Most of the nomads leave for Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh with their cattle during the summer because Rajasthan becomes completely dry. Another reason for migration is employment. When the weather improves during August or September, people return with their cattle. The biggest problem concerns security. The camps are repeatedly set on fire; they even get looted. Women members face issues, and on top of that, the police offer no help."

People of the community clearly say that their votes will go to only that leader and party, which will show determination for their upliftment. However, they also believe that no political party has anything special to offer.

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