Rahul Gandhi accused the Naveen government of siphoning of funds meant for Centrally sponsored schemes under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and mid-day programme of Sarva Sikshya Abhiyaan (SSA). The benefits have not reached the beneficiaries under these schemes in the state, he said and referred to the CBI probe into MGNREGA irregularities in six districts and dal scam to make his point in this regard.
Stating that Orissa is not a poor state as it is endowed with huge mineral resources like iron ore and bauxite, Gandhi said, people of the state are poor as they have not benefited from the mining activities. Minerals are directly exported, which is wrong, he observed.
Comparing the land acquisition problems of the Posco project in Orissa with Bhatta-Parsaul in the UP, Gandhi said, he is not against any development or project if the rights of poor people hit by the project are protected. “We do not have problem with any project. But there is problem with the end issue, compensation and rehabilitation of tribal and poor people. The poor should get benefit of the project, the locals should get employment and tribals should be comfortably rehabilitated”. He said, his party has prepared 30-point agenda for the Posco project and if these are complied, there will be no problem in implementation of the project.
Referring to his just concluded padayatra in Uttar Pradesh following allegation of forcible land acquisition there, he said, the new land acquisition bill, which will be tabled in the Parliament will benefit the poor and backward people who have a stake in the development. “In Orissa, I had fought for the rights of tribals in Niyamgiri and I am happy we won the battle”.
Addressing the media earlier in the day, Gandhi had described the state government as corrupt, but added the problem was more with implementation. He, however, said, the level of corruption here is not at par with the Uttar Pradesh government, which is the most corrupt state in the country.
Giving instances of Congress-ruled states, Gandhi pointed out that poor people in Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh were getting direct benefits from the developmental programmes while they were denied such facilities in state like Orissa. "MGNREGA, MDM and other schemes are working in full swing in Andhra Pradesh while CBI is probing rural job scam in Orissa," he said asking people to oust the "corrupt" BJD government in order to help the poor to come out of poverty. UPA governemnt was planning to bring Right to Food Bill, Rahul Gandhi said and wondered if it could be properly implemented in Orissa. "I fear whether the Orissa government can implement the food rights perfectly," he said. Dubbing the ruling BJD as a government for rich people', Rahul Gandhi asked the gathering to spread the Congress message in villages in order to oust the state government for a better tomorrow. Earlier in the day Gandhi participated in two youth interaction programmes at Khurda and Bhadrak where he asked young men and women to join Youth Congress to change the fate of the state. "Congress means development of poor, tribals, dalits, backward and minorities," Gandhi said.