Launching a frontal attack on Naveen Patnaik Government over the multi-crore mining and chit fund scams, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president and party’s campaign committee chairman Rahul Gandhi here on Sunday called upon the people to throw away the corrupt Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Government in Odisha.
Rahul, who addressed a public meeting at Bhatapada near Salepur, as part of his two-day visit to the State, however, did not utter a single word on Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or any other national issues.
Criticising the BJD Government for siphoning off money meant for the development of the State, Rahul said the people of this ‘amir’ State are ‘garib’ because the money that the minerals in the State fetch does not reach the people. “It goes to the pockets of mining mafia and a handful of people,” he alleged.
Rahul said Odisha is one of the richest States in the country with huge deposits of iron, manganese, bauxite, coal and forest resources. “However, what lacks is Government’s commitment to provide employment and pass on the fund to the people. Money earned from mineral sector vanishes on the way,” the Congress leader said, adding that the Raghurajan Committee has also placed Odisha as one of the most backward States.
“Odisha has witnessed over 3,500 farmers’ suicides and unemployment figure of 10 lakh. People want job, but Government does not provide. Twentytwo out of 30 districts of the State are Naxal-affected,” he said.
Stating that minerals worth `60,000 crore were looted which would have benefited a large number of people in the State, he said only select people benefited from this. Similarly, 20 lakh people of the State lost their money in the chit fund scam. Schools and hospitals remain closed because there are no teachers and doctors, he said.
Huge funds are provided under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme and the midday meal programme, Rahul said and added that the benefits do not reach the people because of the corrupt BJD Government. Besides, rice meant for the BPL families were also misappropriated, he said.
Referring to the stand of the State Government that the Centre does not provide funds,
Rahul said no Government in the history has given so much fund to the State as provided by the UPA.
But `5,000 crore remain unspent, he said.
On people’s struggle against the Vedanta project in Kalahandi district, Rahul said, “We have fought a big battle for tribals in Niyamgiri and returned their land.”
He asked the Congress leaders to go to the villages and fight for the rights of the Dalits, weaker section and women.
“You have to throw the corrupt BJD Government away and bring a government which should be of the tribals and Dalits,” he said.
As soon as Rahul emerged from Biju Patnaik airport on Sunday morning, he was given a rousing welcome by waiting Congress leaders. Immediately, he was on the road and kept on waving from his SUV to crowd lined up on both sides of the roads.
Enthusiastic youngsters and party workers jostled for space to get a glimpse of the Gandhi scion.