Grass-root democracy as a bulwark against Maoists – Democracy and Tribal Votes in Maoist-Affected Areas of Chhattisgarh | 19 December 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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max-width: 100%; height: auto;What's the article about?

  • It talks about the various issues surrounding the tribal population in Chhattisgarh, particularly through the lens of the recent Assembly elections.


  • GS3: Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism


  • The article discusses the recent assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and the impact of tribal votes on the outcome. It highlights the Maoist insurgency in the tribal regions of Chhattisgarh and the low voter turnout in Maoist-affected areas. The article also examines the challenges of resolving the Maoist conundrum and the issues concerning the tribal population in the state.


  •  Importance of Tribal Votes:
    • Tribal Influence: The tribal voters have a crucial role in Chhattisgarh, given their 34% share. Winning their support often decides the election's outcome.
    • Maoist Presence: Tribal regions heavily overlap with Maoist strongholds, particularly in Bastar. This complicates election dynamics due to Maoist interference.
  • Democracy in Maoist Strongholds:
    • Low Turnout: Voter turnout in Maoist-affected areas is abysmally low (3-4%), likely due to boycott calls and insecurity.
    • Maoist Disruption: The article criticizes Maoists for undermining democracy by preventing tribal participation, despite claiming to fight for their rights.
    • State Ineffectiveness: The state's inability to inspire sufficient participation in these areas is also seen as a contributing factor.
  • Dominant Election Issues:
    • Religion-based Conversions: This manufactured agenda, according to the article, masks the main concerns of tribal communities.
    • Tribal Aspirations: Increased awareness and assertions have led tribals to demand their rightful constitutional entitlements and dignity.
    • Lack of Focus on PESA: While some parties mentioned the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act's complete implementation, clear execution plans were missing.
  • Importance of PESA:
    • Empowering Gram Sabhas: PESA's true spirit focuses on empowering gram sabhas to govern tribal communities within their jurisdiction.
    • Historical Relevance: This aligns with the historical and traditional way of life of tribals, bringing governance closer to the grassroots.
    • Negligence and Misuse: State governments have implemented PESA poorly, often using it to further their own agendas, creating space for Maoist influence.
  • Countering the Maoist Challenge:
    • Exposing the Myth: Challenging the Maoist image as “champions of tribals” by genuinely empowering them through grassroots democracy.
    • Nurturing Tribal Leadership: Acknowledging and empowering tribal leaders to give them a voice and combat political absenteeism.
    • Beyond Security and Development: The solution lies in a holistic approach that prioritizes grassroots democracy, recognizes tribal aspirations, and exposes Maoist intentions.

Way Forward:

  • We need to move beyond short-term responses to Maoist actions and address the underlying issues of tribal empowerment and effective implementation of PESA. Only then can the Maoist influence be truly marginalized and democracy thrive in these troubled regions.

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