Training his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today said though the former spoke a lot about ending corruption, he was silent on the graft charges against the Chhattisgarh chief minister and his Rajasthan counterpart. “Recently, the Pakistani Prime Minister resigned after his name surfaced in the Panama papers issue. The Chhattisgarh chief minister’s family was also named in the same report, but he did not resign. He belongs to the BJP and RSS and they can do corruption,” he said. “Modiji talks about (ending) corruption and gives long speeches, but he can’t see the corruption committed by Chief Minister Raman Singh. The Rajasthan chief minister (Vasundhara Raje) is facing graft charges, but the prime minister never said a single word on that,” he added.
The Congress leader was addressing a mammoth ‘Jan Adhikar’ rally at Markel village in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar district. The rally was held in protest against the proposed disinvestment of the NMDC steel plant coming up at Nagarnar village in the region. Gandhi accused the ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh of “looting the natural resources of the Adivasis (tribals) of Bastar. “There is only one work which is being done at Bastar. The jal, jungle and zameen (water, forest and land) of Bastar are being snatched,” he said. “Now, they (BJP) are talking about outsourcing (in Chhattisgarh). The RSS wanted to put an end to reservations. This outsourcing method is the way of achieving that through the backdoor…why are the locals of Chhattisgarh not getting jobs…do only those from Maharashtra and RSS deserve to work here?,” asked Gandhi.
He claimed that those who had happily given their land for a proposed Tata plant in Bastar (at Lohandiguda) were yet to get it back even though the project was called off. “The UPA had brought a bill to protect the land of tribals and farmers. It was clearly mentioned in it that no land could be acquired without the permission of the local panchayat. Besides, there was also a provision for a four-time compensation to farmers, as compared to the market rate, against the land acquired. But, it was opposed by Modiji, who later got the support of the corporates in the election,” said Gandhi. He claimed that after coming to power at the Centre, the NDA had attempted to withdraw the bill, but had to drop the plan following a strong opposition by the Congress.
“Then, the BJP asked the states ruled by it to reject the bill at their level,” he alleged. Referring to the proposed disinvestment of the NMDC steel plant, the Congress leader said, “A public sector steel plant is about to be set up in Bastar, which would have ensured employment for the locals. For the first time, I have heard that a public sector plant, which is still under-construction, is being privatised. The same is being done by Modiji in every state.” He alleged that the RSS did not want the tribals to get good jobs and prosper. “They want you (tribals) to go to the big cities like Delhi and work as servants. But, we want development for all, employment for all and make everyone feel that it is his own state,” he said.
Targeting the prime minister over demonetisation, Gandhi alleged that his vision of a cashless economy only benefited the “corrupt”, who were in possession of black money. “Modiji had a dream on November 8 and announced demonetisation. Everybody knows that the black money is in the banks of Switzerland and real estate, but Modiji did nothing towards it. Only the poor and labourers bore the brunt of demonetisation,” he said.
Gandhi alleged that while the poor were standing in long queues to get their old currency notes exchanged, the rich got their work done through the “backdoor of the banks”.
“The Reserve Bank has so far not revealed the amount of black money deposited in the banks after demonetisation. Modiji has exchanged all the black money of the country for the corrupt people,” he said. Criticising the prime minister for his “divisive” politics, Gandhi said, “Wherever he goes, he makes one countryman fight with the other…he has triggered an unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, in the north-east and in Haryana. You are aware of what is happening in Chhattisgarh. The women are being killed and raped, but Modiji never speaks a single word about it.” Exuding confidence about a Congress victory in next year’s Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, he said his party would stand by the people of Bastar in their fight for their rights.
“The Congress is going to win the election in Chhattisgarh. The people of the state have seen the real face of BJP-RSS. When we come to power, the Adivasis will benefit from the natural resources in the region. The Congress will stand by the tribals in their fight for their rights, including the one against the (proposed) disinvestment of the Nagarnar steel plant,” he asserted. Alleging that the BJP-RSS showed “big dreams” to the people of the state and never attempted to make them a reality, the Congress vice-president alleged that the saffron party always ran “after money and power”.
“The Congress is fighting for the rights of the poor and tribals. When it comes to power, it will change Bastar. We will improve the health and education facilities in the region,” he said. “I believe, if Bastar is weak, it will weaken Chhattisgarh and the country. We will not let that happen,” added Gandhi.