Returning to the Union Council of Ministers after 31 years, V. Kishore Chandra Deo will hold the portfolios of Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj.
A veteran parliamentarian and now tribal face of the Congress from Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Deo expressed happiness over his induction and said he was vested with the very heavy responsibility of protecting tribal interests and strengthening the panchayati raj system.
He stressed the need to change the mindset of displacing tribals for launching mining projects. “No development can take place at the cost of people's rights and interests.”
Stressing that fundamental rights had to be protected, Mr. Deo said that before initiating any process of development the people's rights had to be taken care of first.
Asked about the raging controversy surrounding mining projects, he underlined the helplessness of tribals in taking care of themselves and condemned the drive at evicting them for the sake of mining.
Much like mining was not possible in Lutyens' Delhi and under the Taj Mahal or India Gate, tribal areas too should be kept out of bounds to mining.
As for the panchayati raj, Mr. Deo stressed better monitoring of funds and hoped that the States would utilise the money properly to reach benefits to the people.
Mr. Deo last served as Central Minister in 1979-80, as Minister of State for Steel, Mines and Coal after his maiden election to the Lok Sabha in 1977. He was re-elected on four other occasions, besides being a member of the Rajya Sabha for one term.
Mr. Deo was chairperson of the joint parliamentary committee on the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, which led to the historic Forest Rights Act.
He also chaired the committee that went into the cash-for-vote scam in Parliament.