Published On : Wed, Dec 17th, 2014

I will strive to change perception of Naxal-hit Gadchiroli in positive way: Raje Ambarishrao

  • Youngest Minister for Tribal Development from Maharashtra is a down-to-earth person
  • Noble blooded Minister passionate about Tribal issues.

Ambrish Mahajan

He is a political new-comer, in his mid-twenties, who contested on a BJP ticket and became a Minister in BJP Government, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. In an exclusive interview with Nagpur Today, Raje Ambarishrao Maharaj claimed that he is all set to bring about a change in his constituency and to put the district on the development map. Apart from personal charm and charisma, it is the royal respect the young Maharaj of Aheri draws from the tribal belt of Gadchiroli.  The respect and awe of those whom he interacts with may be the key to his success. Raje Ambarishrao had begun his political career as a young campaigner when Ambarish’s grandfather Raje Vishweswar Rao and father Satyvanrao contested the elections and won in the 70s.

Nagpur Today: What are your plans through your Ministry for the tribals of Gadchiroli?
Raje Ambarishrao: “There are many policies and schemes for the benefit of tribals in Maharashtra. Umpteen financial schemes exist through which wellbeing of tribals could be achieved. However, these schemes and policies do not seem to reach its logical conclusion. The budgetary allocation of Tribal Development is second largest in Maharashtra. However, neither no one knows where these funds go nor the allocated funds reach the tribals for progress. I feel there is an urgent need for one to assess where the real problem is. One problem seems to be the implementation of the schemes and policies of the Government meant for the development and uplift of the tribal community,” lamented the Minister.

Raje Ambarishrao further claimed that even after 60 years of Independence, tribals living in many areas of Gadchiroli still live a very primitive life-style. Many tribals have not even seen electricity, cars, mobiles, and other electrical and electronic gadgetry which we often take for granted and use commonly in urban areas. Some tribals do not even wear cloths.

“A meeting is being organized after the Winter Session which will be attended by Union Minister for Tribal Affairs along with senior officials of his ministry. The meeting will discuss the present state and the ways by which many schemes and facilities meant for the tribals could reach them and their life-style be changed for better,” said Raje Ambarishrao.

However, Raje Ambarishrao sought certain time period to set the things in order as said it has been only a week since he has been allocated this ministry. “I am still studying the working and functioning of my ministry and finding where the rot lies. Once I get to know the loopholes, I will work to plug them and ensure that all the funds and schemes reach the grassroots level and to the tribal community.”

The animated manner in which Raje Ambarishrao related the condition of the tribals and the problems they are facing spoke of the passion he has for the tribals and for their uplift.

Nagpur Today: What do you propose to change the way people of Maharashtra think about Gadchiroli, Aheri and other tribal belts?
Raje Ambarishrao: “First of all the media needs to purge or cleanse the poor or bad image of Gadchiroli. I want to put Gadchiroli on the map of India depicting a positive image. I need to show the people of Maharashtra the actual Gadchiroli and not only the image of being a “Naxal Hit” area. The situation is not so bad or frightening which causes one to avoid even venturing into Gadchiroli or Aheri. There are beautiful locations, wonderful art, culture and traditions of tribals in my constituency to admire and worth knowing.”

Raje Ambarishrao further stated with pride that his people are very intelligent, hard-working and immensely talented especially the youth of his constituency. “Even in the field of sports, given an opportunity the youth of Gadchiroli can beat any champion hailing from urban areas. After watching the potential of the tribal youth, I have opened a Sports Academy. The Academy is named after my father’s name and is known as the late Raje Satyavan Maharajah Sports Academy. Tribal youth are given free coaching by coaches and trainers from Pune, Mumbai and other places. I dream tribal youths participating and winning gold medals in National Championships”.

Ambrish Mahajan 2
Nagpur Today: What is your message to the tribal youth of Maharashtra?

Raje Ambarishrao: “When I see the educated tribal youth who have finished their graduation, lurking at pan-kiosks and wasting their time, I am really pained. This is because one of the major problems is generation of employment in these tribal areas. However, I too know and understand their (tribal youth of Gadchiroli) plight. To begin with, most tribal parents do not want their children to go to school. This is because the number of hands which can help the parents’ occupation or lively-hood (farming, pottery or any other means of family’s livelihood) reduces. However, even if the children study and graduate, there is practically no industry where they can get gainful employment. The youth will have to either go to Andhra Pradesh or other prosperous cities like Mumbai, Pune etc for jobs. If they continue here they end up as daily-wage earning labourers. To address this pressing issue, I have spoken to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who have assured to bring some industries in Gadchiroli. I am having talks with some industries and soon something positive will definitely come up,” said the confident Raje Ambarishrao.

In his message to the tribal youth, Raje Ambarishrao said that somehow complete your education which can be graduation or post-graduation. After getting gainfully employed, do not forget your other tribal brethren from Gadchiroli and work towards ensuring, that they too get employed in good industries. “I also appeal other tribal people who have migrated from Gadchiroli and are doing well to repay their motherland by working towards the progress and development of Gadchiroli.”

Raje Ambarishrao the person:
“I have a noble ancestry. My grandfather was Late Raje Vishveshwar Rao who contested and became Member of Parliament. My father Late Raje Satyavan Rao was an MLA (who passed away in 2011). My maternal grandfather (Nanaji) was also a royalty named Kunwar Bhanupratap Singh of Chhattisgarh. He was a Minister of the then Unified Madhya Pradesh. However, his constituency now falls in Chhattisgarh.

“My earlier schooling was in Pune.The High School and Junior College education was completed in Nagpur. I did my post graduation in Business Law from Birmingham in London (UK),” said Raje.

On additional note, Raje Ambarishrao’s staff, present and past, and other people who have met him have one common thing to say: Raje Ambarishrao is always calm and composed. No one has ever seen him get angry or agitated. He is broad-minded, charitable, and always ready to help anyone who approaches him. He has his passion to change the negative tab attached to Gadchiroli.

As told to Samuel Gunasekharan. Photographs by Amol Gajbhiye