Jaipur: In the upcoming Rajasthan assembly elections, a political rivalry is brewing between the sons of Gujarati tribal leader Chhotubhai Vasava. Mahesh Vasava, leading the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), and Dilip Vasava, supporting the newly-formed Bharatiya Adivasi Party (BAP), are vying for the crucial tribal vote bank.
The BTP, founded by Chhotubhai Vasava in 2017, faced internal dissent in 2022 when Mahesh rebelled, leading to a decline in political influence in Gujarat. This internal rift has now spilled over into the Rajasthan elections, with the BTP and BAP fielding candidates against each other in 17 out of 25 tribal-dominated assembly seats.
The emergence of BAP has reshaped the political landscape in southern-eastern Rajasthan, where tribal issues like migration, unpaid government employees, and stagnant development remain long-standing concerns. Despite the low-key approach of both BTP and BAP, some locals express hope for these parties, while others view them as potential vote-cutters for major parties like the Congress and BJP.
The fight for tribal land rights is another key issue in Rajasthan, with 25 reserved seats up for grabs. Both BTP and BAP aim to secure basic rights for the tribal population and have promised to address concerns related to land, water, and forest rights.
The BTP’s past support to the Congress-led government in Rajasthan has faced criticism, leading to the formation of BAP and the potential for a three-way contest in the upcoming elections. While BJP observers maintain that BTP and BAP are small parties with limited influence, tribal sentiments and discontent with the major parties suggest a potentially impactful role for the tribal-focused parties in shaping the outcome of the Rajasthan assembly elections.