Lok Sabha elections 2019: Forest rights could decide results in 133 seats, says report
New Delhi, March 26: While nationalism, caste and religion continue to dictate India's narrative for this year's Lok Sabha election, there could be other significant factors also. According to an analysis by Community Forest-Resource Learning and Advocacy (CFR-LA), an NGO, poor implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) could decide results in 133 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies that go to polls over the next two months, IndiaSpend reported.
The analysis, which took into account the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the said 133 constituencies that have a large concentration of tribal dwellers, found that the number of voters eligible for land rights under FRA is more than margin of victory in over 95 per cent of the seats.
"This implies that any political party that promises effective implementation of the FRA and other laws protecting land rights of tribespeople could defeat the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in these constituencies. The BJP government has been criticised for not protecting the rights of tribespeople during the court hearings that led to the Supreme Court ordering that forest dwellers whose claims had been rejected by respective state governments be evicted. The order was later put on hold," the IndiaSpend report said.
The NGO also cited the results of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh last year to support its case.
FRA legalised forest-dwellers' land rights in 2006 and is critical to the rights and livelihoods of at least 200 million Indians of whom 90 million are tribals. Ever since it was enacted, FRA has remained a point of confrontation between the forest-dwellers and governments, resulting in conflicts over 550,000 hectare of forest land.
Over six million people are affected by these conflicts, as per the data collected Land Conflict Watch, an independent network of researchers and journalists.