CPI-M Politburo member Brinda Karat on Saturday accused the Narendra Modi-led central government of bringing stringent provisions in The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (RoFR) to snatch away the rights of the forest-dwelling community.

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Addressing the 22nd central conference of Tripura Upajati Ganamukti Parisad (GMP), tribal front of CPI (M) in Agartala, Karat slammed the BJP government in the state and centre accusing them of undertaking steps against the tribal population and downtrodden section of the society. She said that the future of these communities has become critical under the BJP rule.

“As part of their Hindu agenda, the BJP-led government is interfering with the culture and tradition of tribal communities of India. The government has proposed an amendment in the existing RoFR Act, which seems to be an attempt to infringe the century-old rights and traditions of forest-dwelling communities. Not even 55 per cent of forest dwellers have yet been given deed rights as per the law,” Karat alleged.

Calling upon the people to unite against BJP, she alleged that the party has sponsored a group to move Supreme Court against RoFR and added that the government has been working for the protection of benefits of the rich and influential section of the society and directly working against the tribal population, also the poor and marginalised sections.

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Karat stated that the central government had cut down Rs 9000 crore allocation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and Rs 75,000 crore under food safety component in the proposed budget for the next financial year. The budget also proposed only 8.6 per cent for tribal development, which is 1.86 per cent lower than last year and the government has been desperately trying to cease the constitutional and economic rights of the citizens of the country.

However, Karat urged the people to voice for increasing investment in the rural pockets of the country, which will, in turn hike the consumption expenditure in rural India; thereby, boost the rural economy. She said, “Decline of consumption expenditure by 8.8 per cent in rural areas of this country has to lead to further job crisis to deprive the poor.”

“The Central government’s report itself says the ‘most worrying’ trend is that food consumption in rural India has declined by almost 10 per cent. The decline probes a fall in food spending, especially in the villages. To meet up the gap due to decline in expenditure, the government has to invest in villages and arrange work for the poor,” Karat said.

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