Stepping up his attack on the Modi government at the Centre and the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said they are not working for farmers, tribals and dalits in the state and accused them of muzzling tribal rights.
“Naveen Patnaik and the BJP are trying to take away the land of the adivasis. But, the Congress party will ensure that the rights of tribals are restored,” Gandhi said at a rally at Bhawanipatna. “We will protect your rights on water, land and forest,” he added.
This was Gandhi’s second visit to Odisha in two weeks, as he attempts to revive the party in the state, which will face the general and assembly elections simultaneously. On January 25, he had addressed a rally in Bhubaneswar.
Playing the tribal card in one of the most economically backward states of the country, Gandhi said, “Congress party gave special attention to your region, be it the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) or assistance for Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK). We understand that you need special attention. But, BJP and Naveen Patnaik worked only to snatch that from you.”
He also accused the Prime Minister of being corrupt and Naveen Patnaik of being “remote controlled” by Modi. “Naveen Patnaik gave you chit fund scam while Modi gave you Rafale scam and demonetisation,” he added.
The Congress chief said that the two governments are benefiting a handful of industrialists at the cost of the poor.
“Be it Narendra Modi or Naveen Patnaik, they run governments only for their 15-20 rich friends. PM Modi has waived off loans worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore for industrialists over the last four years. But in the budget, he could only manage Rs 3.5 per farmer a day,” said Gandhi.
According to Gandhi, his party had decided that land acquired for establishing industries would be returned if the projects fail to take off within a period of five years of the land acquisition.
“A Tata factory, which could not be built in Chhattisgarh in five years. So, the Congress government gave back the land to tribals,” he said.
He also assured of waiving of farm loans and giving Rs 2,600 on paddy per quintal if the Congress comes to power in the state.