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March 23, 2008
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March 23, 2008

Page: 8/32

Home > 2008 Issues > March 23, 2008

What was Rahul?s mid-night mission with a Christian NGO in Orissa?
By Debasis Tripathy in Bhubaneswar

The colourful ?Discover India? trip of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi to Orissa concluded colourlessly, without discovering anything except two missionary run evangelical institutions. Shri Gandhi only proved that mere Gandhi-Nehru origin can neither discover India nor identify its soul. It was just a pre-poll campaign of his party for which the state spent crores of rupees from the public exchequer.

Rahul Gandhi?s last visit to Orissa kept the administration and the security forces on their toes as he went away to some unknown place in the late night, without informing even the police. During his visit to Berhampur, he went away to a village named Kankia, about 30 kms from Gopalpur township. He was accompanied by the chief of a missionary run NGO and two bodyguards. He went to the office of that NGO at about 10 in the night and spent some hours there. Then he visited a residential school run by that missionary and distributed chocolates. He took his dinner in the school and rested in the village. Reliable source said that Rahul Gandhi spent a lot of time with the NGO men than his party workers. The NGO is well-known as a Christian institution and is allegedly involved in proselytisation and evangelical activities in the southern part of the state. He returned to his camp in the morning where all his party leaders were searching for him.

He did a similar disappearing act during his visit to Koraput district, where he was warmly welcomed by a reputed evangelical institution. Rahul visited it late night, accompanied only by four bodyguards. In both the cases, the police and the administration were kept in dark. Rahul allegedly did not permit the police force, no police pilot nor even the Superintendent of Police of Koraput to follow him, fully knowing that it was a Naxal-prone area. When contacted about the Berhampur incident, the S.P. of Ganjam district admitted the unscheduled visit to an unknown place but declined to disclose more.

The matter was raised in the State Legislative Assembly on March 11 by BJD MLA Shri Kalpataru Das. Shri Das took it to the notice of the House in the zero hour through a special mention and told that the mid-night visit of Rahul Gandhi was pre-planned. He alleged that a retired IPS officer Pankaj Kumar Gupta, who is working with Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, prepared this plan and it was deliberately not disclosed to the police. He also demanded a probe into this matter. BJP?s general secretary, Vinay Katiyar in a public meeting at Berhampur, accused that Rahul?s visit was an attempt to abet religious conversions in the state.

Amid his tour crisscrossing the Koraput/Bolangir/Kalahandi region of the state, Rahul Gandhi said that he had got a practical experience of the ground realities of those backward areas. He told the media that the conditions of the native Vanvasis are worse than that of their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh and Orissa is more underdeveloped than Amethi. He said Orissa?s development lay in the upliftment of the KBK districts but did not spell out a word regarding his vision and action plan for development. Perhaps he was completely unaware that the KBK districts suffered from acute poverty for 30 years, in the tenure of his party?s government. The KBK region carves out nearly one-third of the state?s geographical area and supports 20 per cent of the state?s population with rich forest. In spite of its valuable mines, this area shares 24 per cent in the BPL list of the state.

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