Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will soon visit tribal dominated states to kickoff the party’s agitation against ‘attempts’ by the BJP-led NDA government to ‘dilute’ the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006.
Congress sources said Gandhi’s visits will largely depend on the monsoon conditions in these states.
At a meeting on Saturday, Congress leaders Ajit Jogi, Jairam Ramesh, Bhakta Charan Das and others briefed the party’s tribal activists from 11 states on the alleged bid by the central government to weaken the FRA passed by the previous UPA government.
The NDA government has proposed certain amendments to the FRA. Congress leaders argued that the UPA government had empowered the tribals and made them “true custodians of forest resources and its produce” by eliminating the nexus between the forest department and private contractors.
They cited the move by the union tribal ministry in allowing the Maharashtra government to have complete control over forest management and sale of forest produce which resulted in the state hiring the services of a private firm for collection and sale of forest produce.
This could prompt the other state governments to follow the move which in turn will affect the tribals adversely.
Buoyed by the impact of its protests in blocking any changes in the Land Acquisition Bill and also forcing the Centre to accept its recommendations in the Real Estate Bill, the Congress is now set to take to corner the Narendra Modi government on the Forest Rights Act.
Jogi, who was issued a show cause notice by the party over the alleged “fixing” of an assembly by-poll in Chhattisgarh in 2014 that also led to the expulsion of his son Amit Jogi attended the meeting.
The former Chhattisgarh chief minister’s presence indicated that he had secured a reprieve in the matter in which purported audio tapes suggested that financial inducements were offered to make Congress candidate Manturam Pawar withdraw from the Antagarh by-poll contest on September 13, 2014 to ensure a straight victory for the BJP nominee.