NATIONAL POLITICS: Delhi radar picks up Rahul tribal theme

NATIONAL POLITICS: Delhi radar picks up Rahul tribal theme – winning the consensus to defeat the Maoists from within ?!!

Rahul Gandhi with tribal women at Jagannathpur in Orissa’s Kalahandi district - brilliantly taking the maoists out of their cause ?!! (TT)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY CITHARA PAUL

New Delhi, Sept. 7: The government will set up a National Tribal Council headed by the Prime Minister to monitor implementation of the many policies and schemes for tribals it has announced.

The move comes at a time the Centre has identified tribal development as one of its two prongs to defeat the Maoists. The Congress too has stepped up efforts to woo back its once committed Adivasi vote bank, as Rahul Gandhi’s recent visit to Orissa’s Niyamgiri region showed.

The 18-member council will have representatives from ministries such as finance, home, agriculture, health and family welfare, environment and forests, human resource development, rural development, women and child development, culture, mines and coal, and power apart from the tribal ministry.

Asked why a new body was needed, a tribal ministry official said the issues were too “complex” for just one ministry and had to be dealt with in a more “comprehensive manner”.

“The UPA government has been increasingly getting proactive on tribal issues since coming back to power in 2009. Manmohan Singh has been taking a special interest in tribal issues, and the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi has identified tribal welfare as the Centre’s utmost priority,” the official said.

“But Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Niyamgiri has taken tribal welfare to a whole new level.”

Rahul had declared himself the tribals’ “soldier in Delhi” during his August 26 visit, which came after the Centre vetoed a Vedanta mining project in the Niyamgiri hills that the Adivasis had protested against.

Many saw in Rahul’s visit a reflection of the Congress’s keenness to win back the support of the tribals, who have been increasingly leaving the party for the BJP.

The official said more and more MPs, especially those from the Congress, have been taking an interest in tribal welfare.

“After Rahul’s visit, we have been getting calls from MPs asking about various tribal welfare schemes. Now it seems the entire country cares for tribal welfare. The plan to set up the National Tribal Council epitomises that,” he said.

The council will monitor the implementation of the forest rights act, the “tribal sub-plan” and programmes aimed at protecting vulnerable tribal groups. The Congress is unhappy at the tardy implementation of the forest rights act, passed during the tenure of UPA I.

The government recently announced several measures for tribal welfare, such as a special rural job scheme package for them, stakes for tribals in mining companies, Ekalavya Vidyalayas in the pattern of Navodaya Vidyalayas, a move to safeguard the tribals’ intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge, and enhanced budgetary allocations.

It has also revived the National Tribal Policy, which had been in cold storage since being developed by the NDA government in 2004. The policy, which proposes land rights for Adivasis and aims to bring their human development indices on a par with the rest of the country by 2020, had been opposed by the mining and industry lobbies. The new council would be expected to watch over its implementation.

MEANWHILE

Sushma skips CVC swear-in – cover-ups later of Games Scandals not to be tolerated at any cost ?!!

PJ Thomas, Central Vigilance Commisioner - no better alternative; once tainted, twice shy ?!! (TT)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

New Delhi, Sept. 7: Lok Sabha Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj today boycotted the swearing-in of bureaucrat P.J. Thomas as the new Central Vigilance Commissioner.

She later met President Pratibha Patil and objected to the choice of the Kerala-cadre IAS officer as chief of the country’s corruption watchdog.

Sushma had been part of the three-member selection committee, which included the Prime Minister and the home minister, but had rejected Thomas’s choice from the short-list of three.

She had alleged that Thomas’s selection was part of efforts to “cover up” the “scam” in the allocation of 2G spectrum, purportedly involving telecom minister A. Raja. Thomas had previously been the telecom secretary.

“It was a conscious decision (by Sushma) not to go (to the function) in which Thomas was appointed after overruling the very legitimate concerns expressed by us about him,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Thomas had earlier been cleared of suspicion in the palmolein import scam in Kerala in the 1990s.

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