Himachal Polls: BJP’s attempt to woo Hatti Community returns tepid results

The party could pocket only the two seats of Pachhad and Paonta Sahib while the seats of Shillai, Nahan and Sri Renuka ji were taken by Congress, where Hattis are a dominant community.

| Updated: 09 December, 2022 5:25 pm IST

BJP’s move to declare Himachal’s Hatti community in Scheduled Tribes (ST) category did not seem have yielded the best results in the state as they failed to sweep all five seats in Sirmour district.

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government decided to give Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Hatti Community in Himachal Pradesh, it was expected to swing the community votes  in favor of BJP in at least five assembly constituencies.

But the party could pocket only the two seats of Pachhad and Paonta Sahib while the seats of Shillai, Nahan and Sri Renuka ji were scored by Congress, where Hattis are a dominant community.

In Pachhad and Paonta Sahib, BJP registered a comfortable win over Congress with a vote share of 46 percent and 34 percent respectively.

However, Congress could barely take a lead over BJP in the other 3 seats winning by a wafer-thin margin. In Shillai and Sri Renuka ji assemblies, Congress won by a margin of 392 and 860 votes respectively, while in Nahan there was a gap of 1639 votes between two rivals.

On September 14, the Union cabinet, chaired by Prime minister Narendra Modi, approved a Constitution amendment bill granting tribal status to the Hatti community living in the Trans-Giri region of Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur district.

It means that around 1.6 lakh members of the Hatti community in the Trans-Giri region will be able to derive benefits meant for STs under the existing government schemes. According to government policy, they will also be entitled to the benefits of reservations in services and admission to educational institutions.

 There are around 3.5 lakh Hattis residing in Shillai, Paonta sahib, Sri Renuka ji and Pachhad assembly constituencies. The Hatti community consists of 14 clans and is spread across 164 Panchayats in the Trans-Giri region. They had been demanding tribal status since 1967. Divided by the Tons river, Hattis of Jaunsar Bawar in Uttarakhand had already been given Scheduled Tribe status 55 years ago. Since then, development indices on both sides of the Tons show a clear divide.

In 2009, the issue of declaring the Himachali Hattis as tribal was included by the Bharatiya Janata Party in its manifesto. In 2014, current Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had announced grant of tribal status to the Hattis during his visit to Sirmaur district.

The Hattis are a close-knit community  who traditionally sold homegrown vegetables, crops, meat, and wool, etc. at small markets called ‘haat’ in towns. The Hatti homeland straddles the Himachal-Uttarakhand border in the basin of the Giri and Tons rivers, both tributaries of the Yamuna.

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