Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party calls the tribals ‘vanvasi’ instead of ‘adivasi’ as it does not want them to “dream big”.
Speaking at a campaign rally here ahead of the second phase of assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, he also hit out at BJP leaders for asking the tribals not to learn English while sending their own children to English-medium schools.
“BJP used the term ‘vanvasi’ (forest-dwellers) for adivasis. There is a huge difference between ‘vanvasi’ and ‘adivasi’. You must have seen the video where a BJP leader urinated on a tribal man,” the Congress leader said, referring to an incident in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. That incident reflected the BJP’s mindset, Gandhi alleged.
“The term ‘adivasi’ (original inhabitant) has a deep meaning. It expresses your rights to ‘jal, jungle, zameen (water, forest, land)’. ‘Vanvasi’ means those who live in the jungle. The BJP calls you vanvasi, we call you adivasi. The BJP snatches your rights, we give you rights. We hug you, BJP leaders urinate on you,” he added.
Forest cover in the country is shrinking and when it disappears in the next 15-20 years, where would the vanvasi go, would they beg on the streets, he asked.
“BJP leaders ask you not to learn English. We want the tribal youth to learn Chhattisgarhi, English as well as Hindi….ask BJP leaders which school they send their children to, English-medium or Hindi-medium. They all will say English-medium. Their children can study in English medium schools and dream big, then why can’t tribal children do that. They don’t want your children to learn English, to dream big. Therefore, they call you vanvasi…the word is an insult to you,” Gandhi added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls himself an OBC in every speech and talks about OBC welfare, but when the Congress sought a caste census, the PM said there is only one caste, the poor, he said.
“So why do you call yourself an OBC? If there is only one caste, then who are the ones who are rich,” Gandhi further asked.
You (Modi) won elections, fly in aircraft and wear suits worth crores of rupees. Have you ever seen Modi ji wearing a dress twice? He changes three to five dresses a day. When OBCs require support, you say there is only one caste. Modi ji identifies himself as OBC but when the time comes to support the OBCs, he says there is no OBC community, he added.
The Congress leader also claimed that the prime minister has a report of caste census carried out by the previous UPA government and demanded that it be released.
“Next time when Modi ji comes, OBC youths should request him to conduct a caste census and tell them the truth of the OBC caste. He can’t answer you as the remote control is in the hands of Adani. The government is being run by Adani,” Gandhi said.
“My media friends show Modi ji’s face on the television 24 hours What is the deal ? Adani ji asks them to run….They (the media) do marketing of Modi on TV, and Modi ji gives ‘jal-jungle-zameen’ to Adani,” he alleged.
He had promised to pay Rs 2500 per quintal of paddy in 2018 and the promise was fulfilled by the Congress government, Gandhi said, adding that now he was promising a caste census from the very first day after the Congress retains power in Chhattisgarh.
“I don’t know whether Modi ji will do it or not, but if the Congress party and INDIA alliance are elected to power at the Centre, a caste census will be conducted and the figures (of the caste census conducted during the UPA government) will be released. A new story of OBC, Dalit and adivasi youth will begin,” he added.
Gandhi also accused the BJP of making false promises.
As soon as the BJP comes to power, “it stops the money meant for farmers and labourers and snatches their land. The entire benefit starts reaching Adani ji,” he claimed.
“Last time we had promised to give Rs 2500 per quintal of paddy and fulfilled the promise. Now we have announced that Rs 3200 will be given, and you put it in writing that it will be given,” the Congress leader added.
Earlier, Gandhi spoke at a rally in Jashpur district. While the first phase of elections in the Congress-ruled state got over on Tuesday, the second phase for the remaining 70 out of the total 90 seats will take place on November 17. Congress has fielded deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo from his traditional Ambikapur seat.