Human-Wildlife Conflicts Take Center Stage in Kerala Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Human-wildlife conflicts emerge as a key electoral issue in Kerala's 2024 Lok Sabha polls, with political parties accused of blame games rather than addressing the plight of affected communities. Rahul Gandhi faces challenges in Wayanad, but the state's response to the crisis may shape the outcome.

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Dil Bar Irshad
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Human-Wildlife Conflicts Take Center Stage in Kerala Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Human-Wildlife Conflicts Take Center Stage in Kerala Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

As Kerala gears up for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, human-wildlife conflicts have emerged as a key electoral issue across the state's 14 parliamentary constituencies. Incidents of wild animals, including elephants, tigers, bears, and wild pigs, entering human habitations and causing loss of life and property have triggered high-voltage protests and public unrest.

The settler farmers' organization, High Range Samrakshana Samithi, has called for amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act to control the wildlife population through culling and other measures. The Kerala Forest Department has taken steps to mitigate the crisis, including clearing compensation arrears, activating communication and early warning networks, and creating water holes to prevent animals from entering human settlements.

However, political parties have been accused of engaging in blame games rather than addressing the plight of the affected people. Elected members are expected to press for legislative changes to address the human-wildlife conflicts, which have become a major concern for voters in the state.

Why this matters: The escalating human-wildlife conflicts in Kerala have far-reaching implications for both the safety and livelihoods of local communities, as well as the conservation of wildlife. The outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in the state may hinge on how effectively political parties and elected representatives address this pressing issue.

In Wayanad, where Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is defending his Lok Sabha seat, key issues include the court ban on night highway travel through forests, rising human-animal conflicts, and the fall in spice prices. Gandhi has made bold assertions against the RSS's 'one nation, one leader, one language' policy, which he sees as an attempt to humiliate the people of Kerala.

Gandhi has also accused the BJP-led central government of using intimidatory tactics with the help of central agencies like the CBI, ED, and Income Tax Department against targeted businessmen. He claimed that the Centre is using 'sophisticated' methods to threaten these businessmen, forcing them to either give their businesses to Adani or make payments to the BJP through electoral bonds.

The Congress leader promised to provide Rs 1 lakh per annum to one woman from every poor family in the country and to make it mandatory to provide one-year paid internships or apprenticeships to every graduate or diploma holder if his party comes to power. He accused the BJP and the RSS of trying to destroy and change the Constitution, which he said is the only big issue in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

While Gandhi is likely to win in Wayanad, his victory margin may be narrower this time due to the concerns of voters about his performance in Parliament and the pressing issues facing the constituency. The Kerala Forest Department's efforts to mitigate the human-wildlife conflicts and the political parties' response to the crisis are expected to play a pivotal role in shaping the electoral outcome in the state.

Key Takeaways

  • Human-wildlife conflicts emerge as a key electoral issue in Kerala for 2024 LS polls.
  • Settler farmers demand amendments to Wildlife Protection Act to control wildlife population.
  • Rahul Gandhi faces challenges in Wayanad due to issues like human-animal conflicts, spice prices.
  • Gandhi accuses BJP of using central agencies, electoral bonds to threaten businessmen.
  • Kerala Forest Dept's efforts and parties' response to conflicts may shape electoral outcome.