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Rahul wins tribal hearts in Orissa
Bhubaneswar, Aug 26 (IANS):
Published on 26 Aug. 2010 11:37 PM IST
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Taking a leaf out of John F. Kennedy’s book, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi struck a personal chord with thousands of tribals in Orissa Thursday when he greeted them in the local language and congratulated them for winning a major battle against the Vedanta group’s bauxite mining project in their area.
“Apana mananku samasthan ku juhar (I salute all of you, namaste),” Gandhi said in Oriya while addressing a massive gathering at Jagannathpur village near the Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district, two days after the rejection of the Vedanta group’s project.
“You protected your land,” he added.
“Some people have alleged that it was against development, but that is not true,” he said of the union environment ministry’s rejection of the mining project.
The real meaning of development is where the voices of the poor are heard and not by snatching away the rights of the people, Gandhi said.
Describing his previous visit to the area in 2008, Gandhi said he has been standing with the tribals and for their cause, adding that their peaceful protests had been heard not only in Delhi but also abroad.
The Congress, he said, was committed to protecting the interests of the poor and tribals and cited examples of various developmental projects undertaken in the party ruled states of Delhi, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh.
Thousands of Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kondh tribals welcomed Gandhi at the Tribal Rights Day function organised by the Youth Congress. Many of them wore traditional dresses and performed traditional dance to the beat of drums and other musical instruments.
The union environment ministry Tuesday rejected London-listed Vedanta group’s bauxite mining project, saying it would affect the tribals living in the area and the environment.
Gandhi had visited the Lanjigarh area in 2008 and extended his support to the tribals opposed to mining in the area. Gandhi arrived at Therubali air strip in Rayagada district at about 12.20 p.m., police said.
He proceeded to Lanjigarh in neighbouring Kalahandi district to address the tribals at Jagannathpur village near Niyamgiri hills, a senior district police official told IANS.
“This is a bid on the part of Gandhi to keep tribal youths away from Maoists,” state Youth Congress president Pradeep Majhi told reporters.
“He has been fighting for the weaker sections, including tribals, since the beginning,” Majhi said.
“Ich bin ein Berliner (I am also a citizen of Berlin)” US president John F. Kennedy had said June 26, 1963 during a speech in West Berlin. He was underlining the support of the United States for West Germany 22 months after the Soviet Union-supported communist state of East Germany erected the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West.

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