Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday sounded poll bugle in Chhattisgarh, asking the people of the state to repose faith in her party again and hitting out at the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Speaking at a gathering at Lalbag Maidan in Jagdalpur city, headquarters of the Bastar district, she said the Bastar region, earlier known for Naxalite violence, has now become a “brand” and “you (tribals of the region) have got identity across the country and abroad because of your handicrafts, other arts and processed food products.”
Assembly polls are due in the Congress-ruled state this year.
During the event, titled Bharose Ka Sammelan, Gandhi and Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel launched the Adivasi Parab Samman Nidhi Yojana under which financial assistance of Rs 10,000 will be provided to each Gram Panchayat in the scheduled areas in two instalments for organising tribal festivals, fairs and religious programs. A large number of tribals from Bastar region, which comprises seven districts, attended the function.
….the Bhupesh Baghel government has been working to empower people of the state. It did not violate your trust. You have seen the 15-year-rule of the BJP, you had placed trust in them too. But what happened? Only bhay, bhukh and bhrastachar (fear, hunger and corruption) were prevalent then,” the Congress general secretary said.
“Your lands were snatched away and you were handcuffed. They made you dependent, not self-reliant. They broke your self-confidence and ignored your pain….the Congress government has returned you your pride and worked to empower you,” she said.
During the BJP rule (2003-2018), the loot of people, corruption and “ignoring the pain of people” had become normal, Gandhi said.
“Now you are seeing a government which has been working day and night for your uplift and development; now it is up to you to decide whom you will support,” she added.
Recalling past visits by leaders from the Nehru-Gandhi family to Bastar, she said, “You have come here today because you have faith in each and every member of my family. You have come because Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had attended a tribal convention here several years ago and worked for your development. You have come because you were in the heart of Indira Gandhi.”
“She had heard about the struggle, culture and handicrafts of tribals from her family members since her childhood,” Priyanka Gandhi said.
“My family members recognized your honour and your lifestyle because of the trust. In every relationship trust is the key factor. No work can be done without trust. In public life, trust is a very crucial thing,” she said.
The Congress leader welcomed the people attending the function in the local Halbi tribal dialect.
Former prime minister late Indira Gandhi, her grandmother, used to say that tribal culture is the best culture as they respect nature and never harm it for their benefit, she said.
The Chhattisgarh government has been doing the same and tried to devise schemes while giving due consideration to the protection of nature in the interest of tribals, Gandhi said.
Tribal women, who did not get employment earlier, are now making saris and clothes (at government-supported DANNEX garment factories). The Baghel government has been working to make people, particularly women, self-reliant, she added.
Priyanka Gandhi also praised Baghel saying that whenever they meet, he never talks about negative things or indulges in backbiting but only speaks about new schemes and development works.
Speaking at the event, Baghel said the law and order situation has improved in Bastar.
During the 15-year BJP rule, people were afraid of visiting Bastar There was the terror of Naxalites. The government’s writ ran only for five kilometers on either side of the national highway. Tribals were caught in the crossfire between Naxalites and police. Bullets were fired from both sides but it was our adivasis who faced them. Adivasis were put in jails by branding them as Naxalites, schools were shut, there were no health facilities, he said.
Ahead of the 2018 assembly elections, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, speaking from the same Lalbag Maidan, had promised to ensure the safety of tribals and their rights to jal, jungle, zameen (water, jungle, land), generate employment and bring normalcy to Bastar, the chief minister said.
Reposing faith in Congress, people elected it to power, Baghel added.
Highlighting the achievements of various schemes of his government, Baghel said it put money in the common man’s pockets.
At the event, the chief minister disbursed the first instalment of Rs 5,000 each to 1,840 Gram Panchayats in the Bastar division under the Mukhyamantri Adivasi Parab Samman Nidhi Yojana.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)