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Congress to safeguard forest, land & water of tribals: Rahul

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Chaibasa (Jharkhand), May 7 :  Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said his party will safeguard the forests, land and water of the tribals, if voted to power.

He said the standard of living of the poor would also be improved through the 'NYAY' scheme, the party's proposed minimum income guarantee programme.

"We will protect the jal, jungle, zameen (water, forest and land) of tribals," the Congress leader said at an election rally here.

Asserting that the 'NYAY' scheme will act as a "surgical strike" in eradicating poverty from the country, Gandhi said, "A sum of Rs 72,000 per annum will be deposited in the bank accounts of the tribals, the poor, farmers, small traders."

The NYAY scheme will increase the purchasing power, resulting in growth of trade and provide employment opportunities," Gandhi said.

Accusing the Narendra Modi government of giving Rs 5.55 lakh crore to 15 industrialists, he said the NYAY scheme will require much less funds but change the lives of the poor.

He said the Congress government in Chhattisgarh had taken back the land given to a private company for failing to set up a factory within the stipulated five-year period.

As per the provision under the Land Acquisition Act, land taken from the people had to be given back to the owner if a company failed to set up factory taken for the purpose within five years and the land donors would not have to return the money they had taken in lieu of the land.

It is the Congress which brought the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA) in 1996, Gandhi said and assured the people that if voted to power, the panchayats would be strengthened further.

The PESA provides power to tribal people in controlling public resources and several state governments have adopted it.

Gandhi said the 100 days guaranteed employment under the MGNREGA will be increased by another 50 days if the Congress forms the government.

The Congress in its poll manifesto promised 150 days of guaranteed work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Referring to how the Congress and the opposition parties objected to change in the Land Acquisition Act in Parliament, Gandhi said the government had went on back foot and left the decision on state governments.

The Congress chief also claimed that 22 lakh government posts are lying vacant, which would be filled up if the party came to power.

Gandhi addressed the gathering in support of Congress and 'Mahagathbandhan' candidate Gita Koda from the Singhbhum (ST) Lok Sabha constituency.

Gita Koda, the wife of former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, is fighting against BJP MP and its state unit president Laxman Gilua from the Singhbhum seat.

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