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Rahul woos women, farmers & tribals in poll-bound Odisha

twitter-logoPTI | March 8, 2019 | Updated 20:42 IST

Jeypore (Odisha), Mar 8 (PTI) With less than 100 days left for the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in Odisha, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday sought to woo women, farmers and tribals by promising free education for girls, farm loan waiver and protection of 'adivasi' land rights. On his third visit to Odisha in less then two months, he addressed a public meeting in tribal-dominated Koraput district, a strong hold of Congress for generations. Taking a dig at the Naveen Patnaik government, Gandhi alleged that it was run by "only four to five officers". He said a handful friends of Patnaik were reaping benefits, while majority of the people were denied their rights. On the BJD chief's push for passage of the Women Reservation Bill, the Congress leader mocked that Odisha has only two women ministers. The Congress and the BJP are making efforts to give a strong challenge to the well-entrenched Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the upcoming polls. The BJD is in power in Odisha since 2000. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the party led by Patnaik had won 20 out of the total 21 seats in the eastern state. Union minister Jual Oram had managed to win from Sundergarh constituency. Speaking on the International Women's Day, Gandhi read out a portion of his party's election manifesto for the state and said the Congress if elected to power in Odisha, will provide financial assistance for the marriage of poor women, free higher education for girls, Rs 2,000 monthly widow pension among others. Voicing anguish over rising atrocities on women, he said the party will appoint special women officers in all the gram panchayats to ensure speedy justice to the victims. The Gandhi scion said only seven rape survivors get justice in a year, while the state on an average records at least eight rape cases daily. The Congress president also promised setting up of financial corporations to promote entrepreneurship among the women of Odisha. While speaking on tribal rights, the Congress leader hit out at both the Naveen Patnaik and Narendra Modi governments, accusing them of ignoring the poor and favouring industrialists. The Patnaik government has snatched away the lands of the poor and gifted them to industrial houses without taking the consent of the affected as enshrined in the Land Acquisition Act. Apart from promising farm loan waiver, Gandhi said the farmers of the state would get above Rs 2,500 per quintal as the minimum support price (MSP) on a quintal of paddy. During his two previous tours of Odisha on January 24 and February 6, Gandhi had alleged that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was remote controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI AAM SKN SNS SRY

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