Rahul Gandhi reclaimed the political legacy of grandmother Indira and reached out to the alienated tribals, making a weighty political statement in a land where Maoists hold sway

Vedanta Plans Scuppered As Gandhi Scion Trumpets Tribal Victory

BHUBANESWAR: It was a classic case of David turning into Goliath almost overnight. Less than two days after the environment ministry rejected Vedanta’s bid to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa, the odds swung heavily in favour of the ancient Dongria Kondh tribe when Rahul Gandhi congratulated them on their victory and promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their fight against injustice. In the process, he also unfolded his party’s biggest tribal outreach initiative in recent memory.

“Your voice reached Delhi and you saved your land. I did what I could, but this is your victory,” Mr Gandhi said as he congratulated the tribal community for making its voice heard without resorting to violence. “Two years ago, I had told a gathering here that for the tribals of Kalahandi, there is a soldier in Delhi named Rahul Gandhi. My work is not finished, it has just begun. Whenever you need me, wherever, I am ready to stand with you,” he said amid loud cheers from his audience.

Mr Gandhi’s remarks during the visit to Lanjigarh, where Vedanta’s refinery is located, would make it extremely hard for the London-based MNC to get the Centre to review its decision to stop mining in the area.

For the Congress and for Mr Gandhi, the visit made an important political statement as they reached out to their former vote bank. Tribals , who once formed a significant slice of the Congress’ rainbow coalition , had drifted away from the party in recent years, leading to the party’s marginalisation in vast areas of northern and eastern India.

Courtesy : The Economic Times

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