Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday accused the Congress of using the tribal population as vote bank and "doing nothing" for their welfare and said the Modi government has changed their lives through a series of development initiatives.
Inaugurating the national tribal festival ''Aadi Mahotsav" in New Delhi, Mr Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been standing solidly behind the tribal population like a "brother" and ensuring that they get benefits of government welfare schemes.
"In 70 years since Independence, the tribals were used by the Congress as vote bank. The party did nothing for the welfare of the tribals. Whenever the BJP came to power, it initiated a series of development schemes for the tribals," he said.
The home minister said the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry came into existence when BJP's Atal Bihar Vajpayee was the prime minister and the tribals are the biggest beneficiaries of the Modi goverment's welfare schemes for free houses, cooking gas supply, electricity connections.
"The Congress gave the tribals darkness, illiteracy and poverty. In five years, the Modi government has given the tribals electricity, education, free houses, free gas," he said.
Amit Shah also blasted the Congress for its claim that a particular section of people has the first right over the country's resources.
"If anyone has the first right over India's resources, it is the tribals and the poor of the country," he said.
The home minister fondly remembered tribal icon Birsa Munda, saying the country can't forget his fight against the British to give the tribals their rights. He also praised the tribals for their contribution in protection of forests and environment.