Tribal Satipatis to vote for first time

Tribal Satipatis to vote for first time

Satipati Sampradaya, a tribal community in south Gujarat which resists associating itself with the administration, has been enrolled for the first time in the voters' list and is likely to exercise franchise in the December Assembly polls, officials said.

In a first, the Sampradaya members have been enrolled in districts like Tapi, Dangs, Narmada and Valsad, among others, and a few have also been issued Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPICs), enhancing probability of their participation in the elections.

The state will go to polls on December 13 and 17.

The tribal community takes pride in keeping themselves aloof from government schemes. The Satipati "movement" is touted to have been active in Gujarat prior to Independence (1930s) but has been losing sheen from 1995, after reaching a high.

Dangs, where around 90 per cent population is tribal, is considered to be base of Satipatis, with an estimated population of around 3,000.

"About 2,500 Satipatis have been enrolled in the Dangs district after we launched a massive door-to-door campaign to convince them," said Dangs District Election Officer P K Solanki. "Seeking help of educated young members in their families helped in getting them enrolled... some of them have been issued EPICs... we expect them to vote this time," he said.

Narmada DEO Milind Torawane the estimated population of Satipatis in the district "is nearly 600, of which 75 per cent have been enrolled". "With our persistent efforts and cajoling, around 50 per cent of the enrolled have been issued EPICs," Torawane said, adding, "We are still trying hard to convince the left-outs from the community."

Sources in the Election Commission said still "a few hardcore" Satipatis exist, who refuse to provide photographs for EPICs but efforts are on to enrol them and link them with mainstream.

"Our booth level officers shall visit them and cajole them to exercise their franchise," Solanki said.

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