Modi govt weakening laws framed by UPA to empower tribals: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday accused the Narendra Modi-led central government of weakening laws framed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to empower tribals, and said his party will strengthen them further after coming to power again.

Addressing the Adivasi Mahila Workers’ Sammelan at Jalgaon-Jamod in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district, Gandhi said tribals are the “first owners” of the country and have equal rights like other citizens.

The Modi government was weakening laws like the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, Forest Rights Act, Land Rights, Panchayat Raj Act and the reservation for women in local bodies, Gandhi said.

He said PM Modi calls tribals as ‘vanvasis’. There are different meanings of the words ‘adivasi’ and ‘vanvasi’, he said.

“Vanvasi means you can live only in jungles, not in cities, you can’t become doctor and engineer and can’t travel by plane,” he said.

Gandhi alleged that the PM wanted to take away the tribal land and give to his industrialist friends.

”When we come to power, we will strengthen these laws and frame new legislations for your welfare,” he said.

Gandhi said his grandmother (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi would say adivasis were the first owners of the country.

”You will not understand the country if you don’t understand the culture and history of tribals,” he said.

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