SIMDEGA: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday promised to waive farm loans if the opposition coalition comes to power in Jharkhand and vowed to change the state, which has a significant tribal population, just like neighbouring Chhattisgarh where his party stormed to power last year.
Addressing his first rally in the state, Gandhi said within a year of coming to power in Chhattisgarh, the Congress government has changed the scenario in the state.
"During the BJP government in Chhattisgarh, land was taken away from tribals and given to industrialists. We brought tribal bill, forest rights law and ended BJP's wrongdoings.
For the first time in history, land was taken back from the Tatas and given to the tribals," he said.
"Wherever the BJP has a government, industrialists get land easily but farmers and tribals do not get the right price for paddy. We ensured right price to paddy farmers in Chhattisgarh and waived loans in Congress-ruled states," Gandhi added.
He said tribals have water, forests and land, and his party will protect their rights over those resources.
"There is no shortage of wealth in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh but the common people, tribals are not benefiting from it. BJP government is exploiting Jharkhand in the same way as Chhattisgarh. But Congress will change this," Gandhi said.
He also hit out at the BJP government at the Centre over demonetisation, saying people of the state had to bear the brunt and stand in queues outside banks, but no "dishonest people" were seen in those lines.
"After all, who benefited the most from demonetisation and GST? PM Modi's friends. PM Modi has 10-15 industrialist friends, who take care of his marketing expenses," he alleged.
"They (BJP) only have one agenda -- to take away money from the farmers and common man of Jharkhand, snatching land from tribals and give it to their 10-15 friends. We do not want such a government, but a government of the poor and the tribals," Gandhi said.
He further said, wherever Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes, he talks of 'Make in India'.
"However, not a single youth of Jharkhand got employment from this."
Assembly elections are being held in Jharkhand in five phases.
Simdega will go to polls in the second phase on December 7.
The Congress's Bhusan Bara is pitted against the BJP's Sadanand Besra from the Simdega seat.
The first phase election was held on November 30 with the polling exercise to the 81-member Jharkhand assembly concluding on December 20.
Counting will take place on December 23.
The Congress is fighting the elections in coalition with the RJD and the JMM to take on the Chief Minister Raghubar Das-led BJP, which is fighting the poll on its own.