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'We refer to you as Adivasi, BJP calls you Vanwasi': Rahul takes on saffron party in tribal-dominated Mandla

Accusing the BJP of facilitating land transfers to major corporate entities like Adani at the expense of Adivasis, Gandhi criticised the 'imprisonment' of Adivasis by the BJP and cited an incident where a party leader in Madhya Pradesh allegedly urinated on an Adivasi youth.
Last Updated : 08 April 2024, 13:41 IST
Last Updated : 08 April 2024, 13:41 IST

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed a public rally in the tribal-dominated village of Dhanora within the Mandla Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh on Monday, focusing on Adivasi welfare.

Gandhi highlighted the contrasting ideologies of the Congress and BJP/RSS. "We refer to you as Adivasi, acknowledging your ownership of Jal (water), Jungle (forests), Zameen (land), and Dhan (resources)," he stated. "However, the BJP labels you as Vanwasi, implying a hidden agenda that undermines the fundamental rights of tribals."

Discussing the socio-economic disparity, Gandhi stated that although the tribal population constitutes 8 per cent of the country, their representation in senior positions within government and corporate India is minimal.

He promised ambitious schemes to empower Adivasis, the poor, and the downtrodden if the Congress came to power. "We have previously introduced initiatives like PESA (Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas) and the Tribal Act to benefit the marginalized," he stated.

Accusing the BJP of facilitating land transfers to major corporate entities like Adani at the expense of Adivasis, Gandhi criticised the 'imprisonment' of Adivasis by the BJP and cited an incident where a party leader in Madhya Pradesh allegedly urinated on an Adivasi youth.

Gandhi highlighted the Congress manifesto, which includes promises to empower youth, farmers, women, and other disadvantaged groups. Key pledges include annual financial support for women, doubled income for Aasha and Anganwadi workers, and implementation of the Sixth Schedule in areas with a significant Adivasi population.

He contrasted the Congress's "focus on the poor and marginalised" with the BJP's alleged preference for the elite. Gandhi criticised the BJP's "forgiveness of loans amounting to ₹16 lakh crore" for corporate houses while "neglecting" small businesses and farmers.

Furthermore, Gandhi outlined the Congress's commitment to filling 13 lakh government job vacancies, providing apprenticeships with a minimum annual package of one lakh for youth, enacting stringent measures against paper leaks, legalizing Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers, and ensuring insurance claims are settled within 30 days.

Among those present at the rally were PCC chief Jitu Patwari, Assembly Leader of Opposition Umang Singhar, and Congress candidate Omkar Markam.

The BJP has nominated Union Minister Faggan Singh Kulaste as their candidate for the Mandla Lok Sabha seat. Gandhi later addressed another public meeting in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh, in support of Congress candidate Phundelal Marko. The BJP has fielded sitting MP Himandri Singh for the Shahdol Lok Sabha seat.

In a moment of embarrassment for the Congress, a photo of Kulaste was mistakenly used at Rahul Gandhi's rally in Dhanora. The error was quickly rectified by placing a Congress leader's photo over it. The BJP capitalised on the mistake, criticising it as a sign of the Congress's carelessness. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Mohan Yadav mocked the Congress, suggesting that they have already accepted defeat before the battle has begun.

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Published 08 April 2024, 13:41 IST

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