Lanjigarh: A tribal leader, who
had earlier sought support of Rahul Gandhi for anti-Vedanata
agitation, today did a u-turn by coming out in favour of the
mining project and said the community needed industries and
education and not the Congress leader.
"I don`t understand how Rahul Gandhi can be a
`sipahi` for tribals in Delhi. He has not provided a school or
a job for any tribal. How can he protect interest of
tribals?," 22-year-old Jitu Jakesia, belonging to Dangaria
Kandha tribe, said addressing a rally of the youth wing of the
ruling BJD which has blamed the Centre for stopping Vedanta`s
mining project at Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district.
The jibe at the Congress leader who had said at a
rally here last month that he would be their `soldier` in
Delhi was seen as an attempt by the ruling party to embarass
Jitu, who first met Gandhi in March 2008 here as a
leader of the anti-Vedanta agitation, claimed he had committed
a mistake by reposing faith on politicians and NGOs.
"We (tribals) need industries and education, not Rahul
Gandhi," Jitu, the first Dangaria Kandha tribal who received a
bachelor degree in business administration (BBA), said.
"Dangaria Kandhas need not live in the hills forever.
They must be educated and provided jobs like others," he said.
Jitua also claimed that bauxite mining would not cause
much damage to forests and ecology as projected. "I have
visited Nalco`s bauxite mining area. I have seen that not much
damage is being caused by mining," he said.
The fate of the controversial Vedanta`s bauxite mining
project at the Niyamgiri hills was sealed with the Union
Environment Ministry rejecting it recently, saying that forest
laws had been violated.