Everything for a reason: Behind MP CM Chouhan's gesture of washing the feet of tribal man is BJP's big political motive!

The Chief Minister of assembly poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan has on Thursday taken the country aback through his conduct of washing the feet of a tribal man on whom a BJP aide had urinated recently. As the state ruling BJP regime was in a deep water over the party aide's obnoxious behaviour of urinating on a tribal man, the Chief Minister had called the latter to his residence and expressed his apology.

The tribal man was identified as 36-year-old Dashmat Rawat, who is a native of Karaundi. The accused has been identified as Pravesh Shukla, a native of Kubri village in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh. In a video that went viral, Shukla was seen smoking a cigarette and urinating on Rawat, who was sitting on the ground. The video had shocked the nation and sparked a political row in the state, that will go for the assembly poll later this year. 

It has been reported that Rawat had asked Shukla to pay the outstanding wages and when Rawat asked for the wages, Shukla was in an inebriated state and he made Rawat to sit on the ground and urinated on him. As the video had made headlines, the state police had apprehended Shukla and a case has been registered against him under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 

Furthermore, the Madhya Pradesh government had also demolished 400 square feet of Shukla's residence in his hometown by citing that the property was constructed illegally. The Congress party has claimed that Shukla is associated with the BJP. However, the saffron party has denied the allegations and went on to say that Shukla was not a member of the party and that he could have attended the party's programmes in the state. 

Reacting to the incident, Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath said, "This incident has put entire Madhya Pradesh to shame. Strictest punishment should be given to the guilty person and atrocities on tribal people in Madhya Pradesh should be stopped." "There is no place for such a heinous act with the youth of the tribal community in civilised society", he added. 

As outrage grown against the ruling BJP government, the Sidhi police arrested Shukla and invoked National Security Act (NSA) against him and he has been lodged in Rewa district jail. While the BJP has claimed that Shukla wasn't a member of the party, several fact-checking websites had exposed the fact that Shukla indeed has association with the BJP. On his social media handles including Twitter and Facebook, he had posted his BJP membership card. 

Several photos of him taking part in the rallies of senior BJP leaders including Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra have surfaced on the internet. On the other hand, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has played a damage control measure on Thursday by washing the feet of the victim Dashmat Rawat.  

On Thursday, Chouhan invited Rawat to his Bhopal residence and washed his feet. Chouhan had also shared the photos and visuals on social media and said that he shares his pain and he expressed his apology. "Dashmat ji, this is an attempt to share your pain, I also apologise to you, for me public is God", the Chief Minister wrote on Twitter. 

As his gesture was going viral, Chouhan spoke to ANI and said, "For me, the poor is God and people are like God to me. Serving the people is equal to worshipping God. We believe that God resides in every human being. I was pained by the inhuman incident that happened with Dashmat Rawat...Respect and security is important for the poor." Chouhan had also asked Dashmat Rawat about his livelihood including how he earned a living and whether he and his family are beneficiaries of government schemes. 

BJP's political motive behind Chouhan's gesture 

The victim Dashmat Rawat belongs to the Kol tribal community, one of the dominant communities in Madhya Pradesh. As the assembly poll is around the corner, the ruling BJP, which aims to retain the reign, doesn't want to ruin its base with the tribal communities. The Kol community is mainly concentrated in the northern districts of the state and it is the largest tribal group in the Vindhya region comprising seven districts. The BJP has been vying to sweep the votes from the Kol community in the upcoming assembly polls. 

Kol tribe is the third largest tribal community in Madhya Pradesh and what becomes an interesting affair is that the community plays a vital role in deciding the winners in over two dozen assembly seats in the state. As the community can turn the table in seven districts, the BJP has planned to strongly reap from the votes from the Kol tribes.  

To woo the voters of this community, the BJP government had earlier this year held 'Kol tribal convention' in Satna on the birth anniversary of Kol tribe icon, Sabri Mata, who is worshipped as a great devotee of Lord Ram. Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had recently announced various schemes to the Kol tribe, though the tribals accuse the BJP of not implementing proper schemes for the community including providing jobs and education.

As per the 2011 Census, Kol tribe has a population of over a million people and Madhya Pradesh accounts for nearly 1.53 crore tribal population, the highest in the country. Rewinding five years, in the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP had lost half of the tribal seats and after coming to power by toppling the Congress rule, the BJP has launched a tribal outreach programme and the party has chalked out the programmes to cover every tribal community. 

The stronghold region of the Kol tribe has 30 assembly seats and in the 2018 polls, BJP had a big sweep in this region by winning 24 seats. As the saffron party tends to keep the voter base intact in the upcoming polls, the incident of urinating on Dashmat Rawat, a tribal man from Kol community, had seemingly marred the BJP's efforts to gain the support from the community in the polls. The political observers had said that the apparent insult on Rawat had sparked anti-BJP sentiments among the Kol community. 

The incident was in a fashion that it would plummet the image of Chouhan and the BJP's outreach programmes to woo the votes from Kol community. It also had put the initiatives from the Chouhan government to the Kol community behind and after realizing the after-effect of the incident that could damage the party in the polls, the Chouhan regime quickly plunged into action and besides arresting the accused Shukla, the government went one step further of demolishing Shukla's residence, and Chief Minister Chouhan had gone another step further by calling Rawat, a Kol tribe, and went on to wash his feet. 

Pravesh Shukla's tweet with his BJP membership card