Rahul Gandhi vows to safeguard tribal rights, attacks Centre, Odisha government
Gandhi also vowed to provide a minimum income to the poor, if voted to power in the state, where it has remained in opposition for two decades
Rourkela/Bhawanipatna: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi Wednesday hit out at the Modi government, accusing it of thrusting corruption and unemployment on people and vowed to safeguard the rights of tribals on "Jal, Jamin and Jungle" (water, land, and forest).
Gandhi also vowed to provide a minimum income to the poor, if voted to power in the state, where it has remained in opposition for two decades.
Citing BJD's support to NDA on measures such as demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax, he claimed Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was being "remote-controlled" by the BJP.
"Chowkidar chor hai, Naveen Patnaik remote-controlled hai," Gandhi said.
Kicking off the Congress campaign for Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Odisha, likely to be held simultaneously in April-May, he addressed rallies in the tribal-dominated Kalahandi and Sundargarh districts during his second visit to the state in a fortnight.
Gandhi also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, "Corruption is rampant at the Centre and in Odisha."
"While the Modi government has gifted the country the Rafale scandal, chit-fund scam has grown in Odisha under Patnaik. Many ruling BJD leaders are involved in chit-fund scam."
The Modi government, he claimed, waived Rs 3.5 lakh crore in loans of 15 industrialists, but both BJP and BJD have refused to waive farm loans.
"The government has enough money to write off huge loans of industrialists, but when it comes to bring succour to poor farmers, it shows helplessness," he said.
Accusing Modi and Patnaik of "snatching" lands from tribals and farmers, he said, "I promise that Congress will protect it. Tribals have the first right over Jal, Jamin and Jungle."
"Earlier the slogan was 'Achhe Din', now it is 'Chowkidar Chor Hai'," Gandhi said.
"Wherever Modi goes, he faces opposition from farmers, tribals, labourers and others. He looks visibly nervous because of this," he claimed.
Seeking to strike an emotional chord with the people of tribal-dominated Kalahandi district, Gandhi said he is a "family member" of the poor.
"I have come down from Delhi to protect the Niyamgiri Hills... They (the BJP) are working to finish MGNREGA, tribal rights and RTI," Gandhi said.
He said the Congress has plans to develop Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) region.
The Congress chief said his party will ensure farmers get back their lands if they remain unused for five years after acquisition for setting up of industries.
"We are working on this line in Chhattisgarh where land remained unutilised for more than five years after being acquired for an industry," he said.
Attacking the Modi over the Rafale jet deal, he claimed had Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which has a facility in Odisha, got the agreement to manufacture the aircraft, a large number of people would have gotten jobs.
Criticising the BJD government in Odisha, Gandhi said Patnaik has failed to work for farmers during his four terms as chief minister.
He promised MSP for paddy would be hiked to Rs 2,600 per quintal if Congress is voted to power in Odisha. "We will fulfill this promise within two hours," he said.
Gandhi also recalled the plight of Dana Majhi, who had to walk over 12 km with his wife's body on his shoulder as he was unable to get a hearse. "When the incident drew global attention, the chief minister kept silent," he said.
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