RAIPUR: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday virtually launched the party's Lok Sabha poll campaign in Chhattisgarh, attempted to woo the tribals and farmers citing "the ownership rights of jal, jungle & zameen (water, forest and land) lies with them", during an event organised to mark the giving away the ownership certificates to tribal farmers of their lands acquired for Tata Steel project.
Addressing a rally on 'krishak bhu-adhikar sammelan' at Dhuragaon in Bastar, he called the occasion as historical stating, "Chhattisgarh became the first state in the country to have returned the acquired land to the farmers".
Bastar visit was his third to Chhattisgarh after the Congress party returned to power in the state after 15 years. The land of over 1700 farmers from 10 villages was acquired in 2008 for the Tata mega-steel project, which couldn't take-off at Lohandiguda, about 340 km south of Raipur.
Rahul attending the first public event after the Pulwama terror strike expressed his deep sympathies for the families of CRPF jawans killed in the attack.
He took the opportunity to reiterate the Congress' land acquisition bill that guarantees four times the price of land to farmers if they consent to part their land but the failure by industrialists to start work in five years will get the same land be returned to farmers.
The Congress got overwhelmingly support from the tribals, farmers and women in the Assembly election 2018 when the party registered a landslide victory securing 68 of the 90 seats.
Claiming the new Congress government accomplished major promises the party pledged to the farmers and tribals ahead of the Assembly polls, Rahul said, "The Congress government has given the justified minimum support prices (MSP) of Rs 2500 to farmers who were denied the same by the earlier Raman Singh government claiming they don't have the money. Now tell me from where the money have come now. There was no dearth of money then but the BJP either kept money to themselves or for the rich corporate friends".
Rahul laid the foundation stone for the maize food processing plant that will come up at Kondagaon district besides two food parks in Bastar. Taking a jibe at the Modi government he said that "when chowkidar had waive-off thousands of crores of loans of industrialists like Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi, the Congress governments can waive farm debts of the farmers".
Rahul questioned the decision on demonetisation asking why only honest people were seen standing in queues when it was aimed to fight against the black money. "It proved a setback for small and medium sector traders beside huge loss of jobs. The PM neither waived-off a single rupee of farmers, the right MSP to them nor created 2 crore job for youths he promised during his previous five years", the Congress president asserted and assured of a single simplified tax under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) instead of the NDA's "cumbersome multiple" ones.
The opposition BJP called the speech of Congress president as nothing more than "a narrative of lies".