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Chhattisgarh Assembly Polls: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi Promises Free Education From Kindergarten To Post-Graduation

He also committed to increasing the price of tendu patta (beedi leaves) collected from tribal communities to Rs 4,000 per standard bag and raising the minimum support price for other minor forest produce by Rs 10 if Congress retained power in the upcoming assembly elections.

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Chhattisgarh.
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Congress leader Gandhi unveiled a plan to offer free education from kindergarten (KG) to post-graduate (PG) levels in government-run educational institutions in Chhattisgarh on Saturday during a rally.

He also committed to increasing the price of tendu patta (beedi leaves) collected from tribal communities to Rs 4,000 per standard bag and raising the minimum support price for other minor forest produce by Rs 10 if Congress retained power in the upcoming assembly elections.

Addressing an election rally in the Bhanupratappur assembly constituency in Kanker district, he announced that education would be provided free of cost, covering Hindi, English, and the local language of the respective state, which is Chhattisgarhi in this instance. Gandhi highlighted the disparity in the educational choices of some BJP leaders, who advocate for the exclusive promotion of Hindi, by pointing out that most of their children attend English-language schools. “We are going to take a major step for you which we call ‘KG to PG’. From KG (kindergarten) to PG (post-graduation), free education will be provided in government institutions to students (if Congress retains power in state). They will not have to pay a single penny,” Gandhi said.

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As part of his party's election commitments, Gandhi declared that the selling price of tendu leaves (beedi leaves) collected by tribals from forests would increase from Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000 per standard bag. Additionally, if the Congress retained power in the upcoming assembly elections, the minimum support price (MSP) for other minor forest produce would be raised by Rs 10.

Rahul Gandhi reiterated his commitment to conduct a caste survey and make its findings public to accurately determine the number of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and other communities. Gandhi also announced that the Congress would conduct a caste census in the country if it is voted to power in Delhi (at the Centre). “We have already made this promise for Chhattisgarh,” he said.

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He accused the Modi government of misleading OBCs and highlighted their low participation in the budget and other administrative aspects, despite constituting approximately 50% of the population.

Regarding the differences in terminology used by Congress and the BJP to describe tribal communities, he explained that Congress refers to them as "Adivasis," signifying their original connection to the land and their rights to water, forests, and land. In contrast, the BJP refers to them as "Vanvasis," which simply means people who reside in the forests and lack these rights. Gandhi stressed that using the term "Vanvasi" is not only an insult to tribal communities but also an attack on their culture, history, and rights.

He also emphasized the importance of the Panchayat Extension in Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act introduced by the Congress government, which requires obtaining permission from the gram sabha (village council) before acquiring land in scheduled areas. He noted that the BJP government had attempted to weaken this provision in many states.

Speaking about the Congress government in Chhattisgarh, Gandhi highlighted that his party had fulfilled its promises by waiving farmers' loans amounting to Rs 10,000 crore, reducing electricity bills by half, and returning tribal lands acquired for abandoned projects.

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