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Will BJP's washing machine ever stop spinning in Maharashtra: Cong

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New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) The Congress claimed on Wednesday that the BJP has publicly admitted to using its washing machine to import leaders in Maharashtra, and cited the example of Ravindra Waikar, Yamini Jadhav and Narayan Rane, who faced anti-graft probes and joined the ruling alliance in the state.

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Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said this as he posed a few questions for Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his rallies in Maharashtra.

"Why has the BJP diluted Adivasis' forest rights in Maharashtra? Will the BJP's washing machine ever stop spinning? Why has there been a three-fold increase in the death of construction workers in Maharashtra," Ramesh asked in a post on 'X'.

Elaborating on what he said were "jumla details", Ramesh said that in 2006, the decades-long struggle of India's tribal communities came to an end when the Congress government introduced the historic Forest Rights Act.

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"This granted Adivasi and forest-dwelling communities legal rights to manage their own forests, and economically benefit from forest produce they collect. Last year, when PM Modi introduced the Forest Conservation Amendment Act, all of this progress was undone," he alleged.

"The new Act undermines the Forest Rights Act of 2006, doing away with provisions for the consent of local communities and other statutory requirements for forest clearance in vast areas. The intention, of course, is to hand over access to our forests to the Prime Minister's corporate friends," Ramesh said.

Data also shows how the Mahayuti government has obstructed the implementation of the FRA, depriving millions of Adivasis of its benefits, he added.

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"Only 52% (2,06,620 claims) of the 4,01,046 individual claims filed have been granted, and land titles distributed cover only 23.5% (11,769 sq. km) of the 50,045 sq. km eligible for community rights. Why have the BJP and their allies deprived Adivasis' of their forest rights in Maharashtra," Ramesh asked.

He also claimed that the BJP has now publicly admitted to using its washing machine to import leaders in Maharashtra.

"Like many BJP leaders, Kirit Somaiya, a former BJP MP, had levelled allegations of corruption against Ravindra Waikar, Yamini Jadhav, and Narayan Rane, who faced probes from the ED and Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau. Soon after, all of these leaders very predictably joined the Mahayuti alliance, at which point Somaiya remarked, 'Everyone deserves a chance. If the shirt gets stained, then you wash it and wear it again'," Ramesh said.

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The Congress leader said that it looks like the BJP has become experts at washing "stained shirts".

"Confirmation of the same has now been received by Ravindra Waikar himself, who mentioned that he had 'two options' when he was with Mr. Thackeray's Shiv Sena – 'switch political parties or go to jail'. Is this how the outgoing PM has been dealing with corruption," Ramesh asked.

He said since 2021, there has been a three-fold increase in the deaths of construction workers in Maharashtra.

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"While the BJP government loves to boast about its infrastructure projects, the cost is being borne by India's migrant workers. They come to cities like Mumbai in search of opportunities and end up paying with their lives because of government apathy," Ramesh said.

"While the Congress government had laid down the Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers' (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules in 2007, developers and contractors have flouted the law at will under BJP rule," he said.

In August 2023, when 13 labourers died due to the collapse of a 700 tonne girder on the Samruddhi Expressway in Thane, they were promised Rs 5 lakh as compensation by the state government and Rs 2 lakh by the central government, Ramesh said.

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"The families were forced to complete tedious paperwork and only received their compensation four months later. This is also a rare case, as most families never receive any compensation," he alleged.

In the Congress' Nyay Patra, the party has guaranteed that it will make laws to protect the rights of unorganised workers and enhance their social security, he said.

"We have also promised a national minimum wage of Rs 400 per day. What is the PM's vision for better safety and security for construction workers," Ramesh said and asked the prime minister to break his "silence" on these issues. PTI ASK IJT

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