Unlike some other constituencies in the Bengal polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva push did not prove effective among the tribal community mainly dominated by the Santhals and Kurmis in the Jangalmahal region that comprises 40 assembly seats in Jhargram, West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.
The reason: besides many welfare concerns which the tribal communities have been fighting for over decades, the recognition of Sarna Dharma (in which the forests and nature are considered sacred) is an important issue in Jangalmahal. Leaders among the Santhal and Kurmi tribes alleged that they were forced to follow Hindu rituals as their demand to give Sarna Dharma an official status is still pending with the central government.
They alleged that they have been fighting for this recognition for several years, but nothing has been done so far. Members of these tribes also accused the BJP of trying to push the Hindutva ideology.
After the May 2 results revealed a poll debacle for the BJP in Jangalmahal, the party’s internal assessment revealed that a majority of the Santhal vote share, which was its biggest base in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had shifted to the Trinamool Congress this time.