On Saturday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking why he identifies as an Other Backward Class (OBC) member when he considers poor as the only caste in the country.
Gandhi accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of insulting tribals by referring to them as ‘vanvasis’ instead of ‘adivasis’, and said his party will eliminate the term ‘vanvasi’ from the country. He said this while addressing a public meeting at Jagdalpur in the tribal-dominated Bastar division of poll-bound Chhattisgarh.
Rahul Gandhi added,”BJP leaders use vanvasi term for adivasi in their speeches. Narendra Modi and RSS have coined this new term vanvasi. There is a huge difference between the terms vanvasi and adivasi. In Madhya Pradesh, a BJP leader urinated on a tribal youth and filmed the act then made it viral…This is the mindset of the BJP. They think that your place is in the forest like animals and they treat you like animals.”
“Have you ever seen BJP leaders urinating on animals? But you have seen them urinating on an adivasi. Adivasi is a revolutionary word… Adivasis are the original owners of the country. BJP does not use this word because if they do, they’ll have to return your land, water, and forests to you,” Gandhi said.
He added that the word ‘vanvasi’ is an insult to the tribals and Congress will not accept it. Gandhi alleged, “Earlier, Modi ji used vanvasi word in his speeches but now he avoids this word. He has changed his words, but he can’t change his thinking. His thinking is still to insult tribals.”
Gandhi said that PM Modi said in his speech that the poor is the only caste in the country, adding, “We all know there are Dalit, adivasi, and backward class people in the country. If there is only one caste in the country why does he call himself an OBC?”
“What does Modi ji do? (He asks) Give your land to Adani ji? Adani ji snatches your land and when you oppose, the BJP government fires bullets at you. Adanji ji acquires your land and mines. Does money (from them) reach the villages of Chhattisgarh or Bastar? The money goes to America. It goes abroad. Adani ji gets benefits from that money. BJP leaders get it (money). The money is used for elections,” the Congress leader alleged.
Saying that the Congress government brought the tribal bill, PESA Act, and land acquisition bill in the interest of tribals, Gandhi said, “We cancelled Modi’s biggest friend Adani ji’s iron ore project in Chhattisgarh.” He also claimed that the Congress gives money to farmers, labourers, and tribals, which benefits them.
Polling to the 90-member Chhattisgarh state assembly will be held in two phases on November 7 and 17. Jagdalpur is among the 20 seats which will go to polls in the first phase. The rest 70 constituencies vote in the second one.
Addressing another rally in the Kharsia assembly constituency in Raigarh district, Gandhi said,” Modi’s guarantee means cent per cent lie”. Modi ji had said Rs 15 lakh will be deposited in the bank account of every citizen. Have you received the money? He had promised to give 2 crore jobs (per year). Has it been done?” Gandhi asked the audience.