Non-Christian Adivasis in Jharkhand warn RSS and VHP against co-opting them as Hindus

Attempts by the RSS and VHP to collect soil from the ‘Sarna’ and carry them to Ayodhya have come up against stiff opposition in Jharkhand, where BJP is trying to retrieve lost political ground

 Sarhul festival (Representative Image)
Sarhul festival (Representative Image)

VP Sharan / Ranchi

Non-Christian Adivasis in Jharkhand, who worship Nature and are opposed to idol worship, appear to be upset at attempts by the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to collect soil from ‘Sarna Sthal’ for offerings at the proposed Ram Temple in Ayodhya on August 5.

Following a meeting on Friday of the adherents of the ‘Sarna Dharma’, a call has been given to foil the attempts of the RSS and the VHP. Shiva Kacchap heading the ‘Central Adivasi Sena’ informed the media that the meeting was attended by various tribal bodies including Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha and Parha Samajik Utthan Sansthan. The priests or the Pahans, he said, had been advised to stop VHP supporters from reaching the Sarna Sthal and desecrate the place of worship.

Dr Karma Oraon, a prominent academic, activist and ideologue, warned the Sangh Parivar against playing with the religious sentiment of the adivasis and refrain from the propaganda that ‘Sarna Dharma’ and Hindu ‘Sanathan Dharma’ are one and the same. The Sangh Parivar, he said, has been trying very hard to claim that all non-Christian adivasis are Hindus while re-converting the Christian adivasis. The latest attempt to collect soil from the ‘ Sarna’ and take them to Ayodhya, he alleged, is part of the same exercise.

Observers, however, also see an attempt to win over the lost political ground in Jharkhand by the Sangh Parivar. The result of the last Assembly election in Jharkhand had come as a shock to the BJP. The result indicated that non-Christian adivasis too had moved away from the BJP, irked by unilateral decisions by the Raghubar Das-led BJP government to change tenancy laws to the detriment of adivasis.

While BJP had 10 non-Christian adivasi MLAs in the outgoing Assembly, eight of them lost in the last election. Only Koche Munda and Neelkanth Sing Munda could make it to the Assembly. In 2014, BJP had 11 adivasi MLAs including Louis Marandi, who was the solitary Christian MLA of the BJP and went on to become a Cabinet Minister.

Among the 10 non-Christian MLAs of BJP included Dinesh Oraon from Sisai, who was elected the Speaker. Others were Tala Marandi from Borio, Lakshman Tudu from Ghatshila, Menaka Sardar from Potka, Ram Kumar Pahan from Khijri, Gangotri Kujur from Mandar, Neelkanth Singh Munda from Khunti, Shiv Shankar Oraon from Gumla, Hari Kishore from Manika , and Bimla Pradhan from Simdega . However, in 2019 barring Neelkanth Singh Munda and Koche Munda, all the rest were defeated.

The Bhoomi Pujan etc planned at Ayodhya for the Ram Temple on August 5 has come in handy for the Sangh Parivar to try and retrieve lost ground. But the move appears to have boomeranged.

Many prominent ‘Sarna’ leaders in the BJP are uncomfortable and some of them, in private conversations, claimed that they would have no option but to sever their relations with the party if RSS and the VHP continue to upset followers of the ‘Sarna’.

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