BJP launches counter rally in MP as Rahul Gandhi's Yatra enters statetext_fields
Bhopal: The governing BJP held a rally of its own in Madhya Pradesh a few hours before the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra arrived there on Wednesday. Tantya Bheel's birthplace in Khandwa served as the starting point for the BJP's Janjatiya Gaurav Yatra.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister, and four state ministers were present at the BJP rally there yesterday, but the Congress yatra won't be there till today.
The BJP disputes that its demonstration was intended to oppose Rahul Gandhi's yatra. "Unlike Congress, we don't embark on yatra only ahead of elections. Our rally was planned well in advance," said Ram Dangore, a BJP MLA, NDTV reported.
The BJP rally will come to a close on December 4 near Patalpani, Indore, the site of Tantya Bheel's death during the British resistance. The date of the tribal hero's passing is December 4. After travelling through six Madhya Pradesh districts that day, the Congress rally will enter Rajasthan.
For the first time since it started in September, Congresswoman Priyanka Gandhi Vadra joined her brother Rahul Gandhi's yatra.
In preparation for the upcoming assembly election and in response to the rising tribal party Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS), which is vying for a major portion of tribal youth votes, the rallies indicate a significant tribal outreach by both parties.
In the state's 230 assembly districts, more than 21% of voters identify as tribal. Up to 84 seats are held primarily by tribes, and 47 of those are designated for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates.
In 2013, the BJP had won 60 of these 84 seats, but by 2018, the number had dropped to just 34. During these two elections, the number of seats in Congress rose from 24 to 57.