BJD, Congress hold rallies over Vedanta, POSCO


MSN | IANS | 04/09/2010

Politics over mega projects by South Korean steel major POSCO and Vedanta and others intensified further with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and opposition Congress in Orissa trading charges against each other Friday. The youth wings of the BJD organized a massive rally christened ‘Save Orissa’ near the Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district. Participating in the rally, party leaders accused the central government of blocking various projects in the state for political interest. Large number of senior party leaders including ministers, members of parliament, and legislators were seen at the meeting, although Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik preferred to stay away.

‘The central government led by the Congress has hatched a conspiracy to block various developmental and industrial projects in the state. The Congress is shedding crocodile tears for tribals,’ state Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai said. ‘The BJD government has been working sincerely for the welfare of the tribals. Only the BJD can protect the interest of the tribals, backwards and Scheduled Castes people. It is evident from various welfare measures that the government has taken in the past,’ he said.

On the other hand, the leaders and activists of the opposition Congress walked staged protests in several towns including capital city Bhubaneswar and nearby Cuttack accusing the BJD of pushing projects compromising the interests of the common men, tribals and at the cost of environment. ‘The rally which BJD named as Save Orissa rally is actually Save Vedanta rally,’ Congress MP Bhakta Charan Das told reporters. ‘The state government has been promoting Vedanta by adopting anti tribal approach,’ Das, who is also working president of the state unit of the Congress party, said.

The latest standoff between the two parties surfaced after the union environment and forests ministry last week axed the Vedanta mining project in Niyamgiri hills located near its refinery saying it will affect the tribals living in the area and the environment. The BJD was angry after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Aug 26 attended a rally near Niyamgiri and congratulated the tribals for winning a battle against the mining project.

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