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BJP, BJD have partnership in Odisha; Cong to protect rights of tribals: Rahul Gandhi

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Rourkela (Odisha), Feb 7 (PTI) Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused the BJP and BJD of having a "partnership" in Odisha, and stated that his party has been opposing them to protect the interest of the people, including rights of tribals of the state.

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Gandhi resumed his 'Bharat Joda Nyay Yatra' in Odisha's steel city here.

While delivering speeches here, Rajgangpur and Sundergarh, Gandhi said: "As you know (BJD chief) Naveen Patnaik and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi run a partnership government in Odisha. They have joined hands and work in tandem. I find in Parliament that BJD supports the BJP. The BJD people also harass us at the instance of BJP".

Gandhi claimed that it is the Congress party alone which has been opposing the BJD-BJP combine for the people of Odisha.

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The Congress MP said this was also the situation in Telangana where Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) was supporting BJP and getting protection from the Centre.

“We have defeated BRS in Telangana and are optimistic to repeat the show in Odisha,” he said.

Both BJP and BJD rejected the former Congress president’s charges.

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“It is actually the Congress which has been supporting the BJD in Odisha. We have seen Congress leaders coming to the rescue of the BJD government in the Assembly,” BJP MLA Nauri Naik said.

BJD vice-president and MLA Debi Prasad Mishra said: “Rahul Gandhi is free to say whatever he thinks, but the fact remains different. In Odisha, people have trust in Naveen Patnaik for which he has been successively elected to power five times in a row.” Gandhi claimed that during interaction with him in tribal majority Sundergarh district, people told him that an attempt is being made to steal the land of tribals through a survey using drones, which needs to be stopped.

Alleging that the survey is being made to provide land to industrialist Adani, Gandhi said, “At the time of (tribal icon) Birsa Munda ji, the British had bullets and today they are drones. We want to say to the tribals – do not be afraid. We will not let your water, forest and land go to billionaires.” In Sundergarh, Gandhi paid his tribute to a statue of Bhagwan Birsa Munda and said that he had fought the British Rulers to protect the interest of tribals.

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“The symbol of courage and justice, the power of Birsa Munda Ji is with Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra. Following his ideals, we will ensure justice for every Indian,” Gandhi said.

Referring to Gandhi’s interaction with some labourers under MNREGA, a post on the official X handle of the Yatra said: “Contractors bring labourers from outside for work. It is written in the diary that a woman was given Rs 720, whereas she received only Rs 200. This is an injustice to women workers.” Noting that unemployment is the biggest problem across the country, Gandhi during an interaction with youths at Rajgangpur said: “The phone you use is made in China. Due to this, the youth of China are getting employment, but the youth of India are suffering loss. That's why I want 'Made in Odisha' to be written on this phone”.

The Congress leader also came down heavily on Odisha's BJD government claiming it is not working for them.

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"While 30 lakh people have migrated to other states for their livelihood, 30 crorepatis from outside Odisha have come here to loot the state's wealth", Gandhi said.

He said Odisha has a huge population of tribals, but they along with Dalits are being "neglected" in the state by the government.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi began his Yatra in Odisha's steel city by offering prayer at Vedvyas Shiv temple and started a 3.4-km-long padayatra from Uditnagar to Panposh Chhak here.

Accompanied by AICC Odisha in-charge Ajoy Kumar and OPCC president Sarat Patnaik, the Congress leader mingled with the people.

As the Yatra entered Sundergarh town, tribal men and women with their traditional attire danced to the beats of drums. PTI AAM RG AAM NN

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