The Election Commission of India says due to its special efforts over the last two years, Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) communities and other tribal groups have joined the electoral process and turned up enthusiastically in various States and UTs for phase 1 and phase 2 of the Lok Sabha elections.

India has 8.6 per cent tribal population which includes 75 groups of tribals which have been designated as PVTG. Location of new polling booths in previously inaccessible areas of States - like Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha, Tripura, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh - where they live has led to the large-scale inclusion of PVTGs in the electoral democracy.

Historic move

In a historic move, the Shompen tribe of Great Nicobar voted for the first time in the 2024 general election, the Commission stated.

For example in Madhya Pradesh, says ECI, there are three PVTGs “Baiga”, “Bhariya” and “Sahariya.” “Out of a total population of 9,91,613 in 23 districts, 6,37,681 are eligible 18+ citizens and all are registered in the electoral rolls. In two phases of voting in the State, there was a lot of enthusiasm among the voters of Baiga and Bharia tribes who reached the polling station early in the morning, waited for their turn to vote and ensured their participation in the great festival of democracy,” the Commission observed.

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Similarly in Tamil Nadu, there are six PVTGs, namely “Kuttunayakan, Kota, Kurumba, Irular, Paniyan and Toda” with a total population of 2,26,300. Out of 1,62,049 18+ eligible PVTGs, 1,61,932 are registered electors. A comprehensive campaign spanning 23 districts has prioritised PVTG inclusion, with a significant focus on regions like Coimbatore, Nilgiris and Tirupathur, the ECI stated. Enthusiastic voters reached the polling station through various modes like walking through dense forests, waterways etc and ensured their participation in the Lok Sabha elections, it pointed out.

The western and southern regions of Karnataka are home to the PVTGs “Jenu, Kuruba and Koraga”. Prior to the general elections, the office of CEO Karnataka in association with social and tribal welfare departments ensured 100 per cent enrollment of eligible PVTGs, the Commission stated. District and AC level tribal welfare committees were formed which met regularly to ensure enrolment of all and to create electoral awareness amongst all PVTGs. Election Officials have visited these areas to enhance registration and electoral participation.

The trend of tribal voters joining the elections was observed in Kerala, Odisha, Tripura, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

Talking about the outcome of the targeted approach, the Commission said during the special summary revision for updation of electoral rolls, special outreach camps were held across the specific States where PVTGs reside for inclusion in the electoral roll.