For the tribals in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the wait for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi just got longer.
Gandhi has cancelled his August 17 ‘padyatra’ in Andhra Pradesh that was planned to support the local tribals’ anti-bauxite mining campaign. This was scheduled to be Gandhi’s second such show against mining after his 2010 rally in Lanjigarh to oppose Vedanta’s bauxite extraction in Niayamgiri hills, considered sacred by the local Dongaria Kondh tribe.
“The state Congress unit told us to defer the ‘padyatra’ as there are reports of possible inclement weather,” said K Raju, head of the party’s Schedule Caste cell and Gandhi’s aide. Locals reports, however, suggest a good weather in Vizag and nearby places.
In his day-long ‘padyatra’, Gandhi was scheduled to meet tribals from Narsipatnam, Jerrela and Chitapally areas. The Congress leader was also scheduled to visit 32 villages allegedly affected by mining.
The Congress has been trying to emerge as a champion for tribal rights to woo the large vote bank. Gandhi had planned to visit many more places where tribals are affected due to mining. In the latest Parliament session, the Congress had expressed reservations to pass the compensatory afforestation fund bill on the ground that it didn’t take into account the Forest Rights Act, which empowers tribals.
In Niyamgiri, Gandhi had famously announced that he will be a “sipahi” (soldier) for the tribals.
(With inputs from Srinivasa Rao Apparasu)