We’re in Jhabua’s Alirajpur district sitting in the house of Shankar Tadwal, a tribal rights activist, who has been directly or indirectly involved with nearly every tribal centric outfit that has been founded in Madhya Pradesh.
The entrance of his house is lined with portraits of adivasi icons. Among them is a portrait of BR Ambedkar. Inside, his room turns out to be a fully functional library. There are books on adivasi history, on its culture, some of which he himself has written. And there are almirahs stacked with legal paperwork related to court cases that he’s fighting.
Soon we get to the subject of ongoing elections. Tadwal begins by locating for us the space that emerging adivasi leaders are looking to occupy in national politics.
“We are not in a position to elect and send our own independent leader to Parliament yet. That day will come soon. For now, we have to ally with the smaller bully in order to fight off the bigger bully,” he says.