Rahul Gandhi promises free education in schools, colleges in Chhattisgarh if Cong retains power

Rahul Gandhi targeted the BJP-led Centre and claimed that it works for the benefit of three industrialists. The Congress works in the interest of farmers, Dalits, labourers and Adivasis, he said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting ahead of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections at Bhanupratappur | PTI
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting ahead of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections at Bhanupratappur | PTI

RAIPUR: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday promised free education in government schools and colleges in Chhattisgarh and Rs 4,000 a year for 'tendu' leaves collectors if his party retains power in the state.

He further promised that if Congress continues in power in the state, the tendu patta collectors who are mostly from tribal communities will get Rs 4000 per standard sac besides a Rs 10 hike in every minor forest produce (MFP). The tendu leaves cited as green gold are used to wrap tobacco beedis. The annual production of tendu leaves is around 1.70 million standard sacs in the state.

Rahul addressed two separate public rallies at tribal-dominated Bhanupratapur and Kondagaon in the Bastar zone, where the first phase of polling is scheduled on November 7.

Lashing out at the BJP-led Centre for “avoiding” any caste-based surveys, he reiterated that such a census will be done in Chhattisgarh and also in Delhi (Centre) if Congress returns to power.

“All BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk a lot about the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) but remain scared of caste-based census because the OBCs remain deprived of what they deserve. OBCs people who constitute over 50 per cent of the population are now being misled,” Rahul asserted.

Talking about the scheduled tribes (ST), the Congress leader compared the terminology while differentiating the word ‘vanvasi’ that BJP cites for tribals from ‘adivasi’ as referred by Congress for the tribes. There are 29 reserved ST seats in the 90-member state assembly.

“By calling them as vanvasi the BJP is not just insulting tribal communities but the expression is also an attack on their culture, history and rights. Adivasi signifies the original inhabitants of this country who have rights over Jal, Jungle, Zameen. For BJP the tribals are the ones who stay in forest and they don't speak about their rights”, he stated.

Wooing the tribals, Rahul said that Congress brought various welfare schemes for them like the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, anti-poverty employment generation MGNREGA, Forest Rights Act and other tribal bills.

He said that no one howsoever high can take away the land of tribals without mandatory permission of the gram sabha in the scheduled areas but alleged that the BJP attempting to weaken the various provisions of these pro-tribal and pro-poor laws to benefit Adani and a few big industrialists.

“There are two ways of running government—one to benefit the richest people who are helped by the BJP and the other to support the very poor, farmers, labourers, unemployed, backwards as practised by the Congress government”, Rahul claimed.

He recollected that the Congress government in Chhattisgarh fulfilled promises on farm loan write-off, Rs 2500 for paddy, electricity bill halved within no time. He said that everyone knows in the coming days the paddy MSP will reach Rs 3000 per quintal in the state.

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