Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claimed that the BJP uses the term 'vanvasi' instead of 'adivasi' for tribal communities to prevent them from having 'big dreams'.
During a campaign rally in Jashpur before the second phase of assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, he also criticized BJP leaders for advising tribal communities not to pursue English education while enrolling their own children in English-medium schools.
"BJP used the term 'vanvasi' (forest-dweller) for adivasis. There is a huge difference between `vanvasi' and `adivasi'. You must have seen the video where a BJP leader urinated on a tribal man," the Congress leader said, referring to an incident from the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
That incident reflected the BJP's mindset, Gandhi alleged.
"The term `adivasi' has a deep meaning. It expresses your rights to `jal, jungle, zameen (water, forest, land)'. `Vanvasi' means those who live in the jungle. The BJP calls you vanvasi, we call you adivasi. The BJP snatches your rights, we give you rights. We hug you, BJP leaders urinate on you,” he added.
Forest cover in the country is shrinking and when it disappears in the next 15-20 years, where would the vanvasi go, would they beg on the streets, he asked.
"BJP leaders ask you not to learn English. We want the tribal youth to learn Chhattisgarhi, English as well as Hindi....ask BJP leaders which school they send their children to, English-medium or Hindi-medium. They all will say English-medium. Their children can study in English medium schools and dream big, then why can't tribal children do that. They don't want your children to learn English, to dream big. Therefore they call you vanvasi...the word is an insult to you," Gandhi added.
Caste census in Chhattisgarh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls himself an OBC in every speech and talks about OBC welfare, but when the Congress sought a caste census, the PM said there is only one caste, the poor, he said.
"So why do you call yourself an OBC. If there is only one caste, then who are the ones who are rich,” Gandhi further asked.
A caste census will be conducted from day one in Chhattisgarh after the Congress retains power in the state, he said.
A caste census will also be conducted across the country if the Congress and INDIA alliance win the Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi added.
While the first phase of elections in the Congress-ruled state got over on Tuesday, the second phase for the remaining 70 out of the total 90 seats will take place on November 17.