Congress president Rahul Gandhi today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of "snatching" tribal land, adding his party will work for protecting the rights of the community.
Addressing a rally at Bhawanipatna in Odisha, among the backward regions of the state, Mr Gandhi said the BJP-led government at the centre and the BJD in the state have "failed to work" for the welfare of Dalits, tribals, farmers and the poor.
"The Congress is the only party committed to safeguarding the land of tribals. We will protect the rights of tribals in Odisha and elsewhere," he said.
This was Rahul Gandhi's second visit within 10 days in the state where assembly and Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to be held together. Mr Gandhi had addressed a rally in Bhubaneswar on January 25.
In stinging attacks on the BJP and the Biju Janata Dal, Mr Gandhi said the two parties are working for the "benefit of their industrialist friends" while "neglecting" the farmers and poor people.
The Modi government waived Rs 3.5 lakh crore loans of 15 industrialists, but refused to waive farm loans, Rahul Gandhi alleged.
Despite its promise, the BJP-led government has "failed" to provide remunerative prices to farmers for their produce in order to mitigate their plight, the Congress president alleged.
Mr Gandhi alleged Naveen Patnaik failed to work for the benefit of farmers in Odisha. He said that within two days of forming governments in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, farm loans were waived by the Congress in these states.
Rahul Gandhi said the Congress has decided that land acquired for setting up industries would be returned to farmers if projects failed to take off within five years of land acquisition, adding work on this has already started in Chhattisgarh.