Bhubaneswar: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has arrived in a helicopter in Lanjigarh, where tribals are fighting a mining project by UK-bsaed Vedanta. This comes just two after the Centre's rejection of environment clearance to its bauxite mining project. (Read: Jairam says no to Vedanta mining project in Orissa)
"Rahulji will interact with the tribal people and address a public meeting, a bid on his part to keep tribal youths away from Maoists," state Youth Congress President and Nawrangpur MP Pradeep Majhi told PTI over phone.
Stressing that there is no attempt to derive political mileage out of the Vedanta episode, Majhi said Rahulji had been fighting for the interest of weaker section including tribals since beginning.
The Nehru-Gandhi scion's visit to the backward Lanjigarh area comes at a time when Vedanta's mining plan in Niyamgiri Hills, home to Dangaria and Kutia Kandha tribes, has suffered a body blow with Union Environment Ministry rejecting the stage-II clearane for its mining proposal on Tuesday.
A senior Congress leader maintained that Gandhi is coming to attend a programme to celebrate 'Adivasi Adhikar Diwas.'This apart, Rahul is also expected to make it clear that the UPA government would not allow any violation of laws meant to protect the interest of tribals, particularly the primitive tribal groups (PTG) like Dangaria and Kutia Kandhas, he said.
When Rahul Gandhi last visited the area in March 2008, he had said, "For the tribals of Kalahandi, there is a solider in Delhi named Rahul Gandhi."
Tight security arrangements have been made in the area for Rahul's visit with deployment of adequate force.
"Rahul Gandhi happens to be under SPG protection and all required measures have been taken to ensure his safety and security," state Home Secretary A P Padhi said. Biju Yuva Janata Dal (BYJD) Convenor Sanjay Dasburma said successive Congress governments at the Centre never bothered for the tribals, who were simply used as a vote bank.
The BYJD has planned a public meeting at Lanjigarh on September 3 in protest against Centre's decision to reject environment clearance to Vedanta's bauxite project.