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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

Jharkhand Assembly Election 2019: Rahul Gandhi slams govt’s bid to amend law for tribal land

Monday’s rally by the Opposition was the first to be addressed a member of the Gandhi family in the ongoing Jharkhand assembly election.

assembly-elections Updated: Dec 03, 2019 07:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with senior party leaders during an assembly election rally in Simdega, Jharkhand,  Monday December 2,2019.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with senior party leaders during an assembly election rally in Simdega, Jharkhand, Monday December 2,2019. (HT Photo )

Promising to protect “Jal, Jungle, Jameen”, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi on Monday said the Congress and the Opposition alliance, if voted to power in Jharkhand, would protect the land of tribals and would not allow amendments in the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Acts as proposed by the Raghubar Das government.

Accusing the BJP and its governments of filling coffers of the corporates at the cost of the tribals and farmers, Gandhi said the Congress instead had always legislated laws and run programmes for welfare of the marginalised sections.

“The BJP wants to amend the CNT/SPT Acts. I assure you, we will not allow this to happen. It is the Congress governments, the UPA government, which framed laws for food security, MNREGA and RTI. We will make laws in Jharkhand and give back you wealth, your jal, jungle and jameen (water, forest and land),” Gandhi said at his first election rally for the Jharkhand assembly elections at Simdega.

This was first rally by any member of the Gandhi family.

Simdega, which goes to polls in the second phase on December 7, is a tribal-dominated district and both assembly seats in the district, Simdega and Kolebiera, are reserved for scheduled tribes. While Simdega is currently held by the BJP, Kolebeira is in the Congress’s kitty.

Of the 81 seats in the Jharkhand assembly, 28 constituencies are reserved for scheduled tribes.

Tribal issues, especially acquisition of tribal land even for development purposes, and amendments in the CNT and SPT Acts have gained traction these polls, with the Opposition repeatedly accusing the Raghubar Das government of trying to acquire mine-rich tribal land and hand it over to the corporates in name of industrialisation.

The BJP has, however, repeatedly denied the charges.

Promising the electorate of implementing the ‘Chhattisgarh-model’ in terms of schemes and laws, Gandhi said, “Like Jharkhand, neighbouring Chhattisgarh is also a tribal state where elections happened last year. There also, the BJP government took tribal land and gave it to a private company. But the Congress government made laws and took back the land from Tata and gave it to tribals who originally owned it.”

The Congress president also accused the Narendra Modi government of helping corporates by waiving off their loans to the tune of Rs 3.5 lakh crore.

“But we will waive the loans of the farmers as putting money in the pocket of the poor is the only way to revive the economy as it would generate demand, which in turn would lift production. It would also lead to employment generation,” he said, defending the NYAY scheme proposed by the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Reacting to Gandhi’s charges, BJP leader and vice-president of the party’s scheduled tribes wing, Arun Oraon, questioned the timing and choice of the venue for his rally.

“I wonder why he chooses to address rally only in Simdega, Khunti and Kolebiera. He addressed no rally in the first phase polling and now he suddenly remembers Khunti and Simdega. This is because he is aware that he won’t get crowds to hear him if he addresses rally in any other area. He should now also make it clear, if he is a leader of a specific community or a leader of the masses,” said Oraon, who recently switched over to the BJP from Congress.