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Rahul starts “discovering India”

Prafulla Das

“For Kalahandi and the tribals, there is a soldier in New Delhi”

— Photo: PTI/ Atul Yadav

Reaching out: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi meets local residents in Ijurpa, Orissa, on Friday.

Kalahandi (Orissa): Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Friday visited the backward KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) region of Orissa, marking the start of his “Discovery of India” journey and the party’s campaign for the next general elections.

He interacted with a number of tribal men and women and assured them that he would take up their cause in New Delhi.

Mr. Gandhi said the country was achieving fast development in various fields. However, two Indias were developing within the country — “one having access to education, health and employment and another that was lagging behind.”

He said the government fulfilled its promises during its four-year rule. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Forest Rights Act would go a long way in helping the poor and tribals.

Expressing grave concern over the backwardness of the region, Mr. Gandhi told the tribals that he would continue to maintain the relationship that his grandmother and parents had established with them. He would now be a part of their struggle for development in education, health care and employment.

Addressing a “Save Forest” rally at Bhawanipatna, district headquarters town of Kalahandi district, he said: “Kalahandi ka, aur Adivasiyon ka Delhi mein ek sipahi hai; uska naam Rahul Gandhi Hai” (For Kalahandi and the tribals, there is a soldier in New Delhi; His name is Rahul Gandhi.).”

Earlier, he interacted with tribals at the Nangalbod gram panchayat in Nuapada district and the Ijurpa tribal hamlet in the Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi.

At Ijurpa, people belonging to the Dongria and Jharnia Kondh tribes opposing the setting up of an alumina refinery in their locality, sought Mr. Gandhi’s help. He would take up the matter with AICC president Sonia Gandhi.

Later, Mr. Gandhi flew to the district headquarters town of Nawarangpur and interacted with students. Then he reached Damanjodi in Koraput district and talked to a tribal group.

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