Stating that the Centre is working on a new Bill related to land acquisition, Rahul Gandhi, general secretary of the All India Congress Committee, said here on Thursday that there is need for “fairness” in any policy on the subject..
“Let us be fair in the acquisition [of land]…When you make a policy fair, the poor respond to it….We cannot allow transfer of land from the poor to the rich people without giving benefits to the poor,” he said. Drawing a comparison between the situation in Haryana which has “a powerful policy in which people share the benefits of development” and Uttar Pradesh where “people are not getting value for their land,” Mr. Gandhi said there was need to acquire land for roads and infrastructure but the benefits would have to be provided to all.
There were some Indians who do not get as much benefit as others like “the tribals, the Dalits and the poor in general,” he said.
On Naxalism, Mr. Gandhi said it was a result of a complex set of circumstances in which poverty and the absence of political connectivity were also involved.
What was imperative was ensuring political connectivity so that people could be a part of the national political mainstream and efforts should be directed towards that, he said.
Asked at a press conference whether the Youth Congress would take in Left wing extremists in its membership drive, he said all were welcome save criminals and fundamentalists.
“There is a significant difference between me and the Maoists. If you are a Naxalite and kill 50 people, you are a criminal. I do not kill people….I believe the Indian people do not believe in violence. If we give them political connectivity, they may not be interested in violence,” Mr. Gandhi said.
He also termed as “illegal and criminal” Vedanta's bauxite mining project in Orissa's Niyamgiri hills, which was recently denied environmental clearance by the Centre. “The company had taken land forcibly from the tribals. When you take land for tribals you should sign for it with the local panchayats. In this case, it was not,” Mr. Gandhi said.