On November 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a conference in Khunti, Jharkhand, commemorating Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas. It is a day committed to honouring the sacrifices of freedom fighters who belong to Scheduled Tribes (ST).
The occasion overlapped with Jharkhand's state foundation day and the Birsa Munda birth anniversary; it is an iconic freedom fighter coming from the Munda ST class in the Santhal Pargana area.
At this event, PM Modi revealed a sequence of welfare programs for tribal societies, incorporating the Pradhan Mantri Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) Development Mission.
This is a 24,000-crore initiative focused on enhancing the socio-economic situations of PVTGs. This outreach holds importance for the ongoing state assembly elections and the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
Data from reliable government surveys such as the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) demonstrates that STS is the shortest social group in India with a population percentage of 9.5 percent.
Scheduled Castes (SCs), Other backward classes (OBCs), and non-SC/ST/OBC groups have a population percentage of 21.9%, 42%, and 26.6% respectively as per the 2019-21 NFHS.
India has 543 parliamentary constituencies (PCs) out of which 47 are reserved for STs. This means that simply an ST candidate can compete from these parliamentary constituencies.
All of these parliamentary constituencies are located in 17 states and UTs, and only nine areas have over 75% of these PCs. 40 of the 47 ST-reserved PCs are out of the northeastern states.
Not only did the Bhartiya Janata Party win a majority in the Lok Sabha in 2014 and 2019, but it also gained a victory over a majority of the 47 ST-reserved seats.
BJP did have a better seat share in ST-reserved seats than overall in the last lok sabha election.
BJP does not always do better in ST-reserved assembly seats. Among the last held state elections in 2018, the BJP's performance in ST seats was more generous than its overall performance in a few states - seven of the 17 states where the party has won any assembly constituency.
Among the remaining 10 states, its performance in ST seats followed its overall performance the most in Tripura, Jharkhand, Manipur, and Chhattisgarh (2018).