Taking strong exception to the ‘vanvasi’ term used by the BJP to describe the tribal community, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said there is a ‘perverted logic’ behind the word (vanvasi).
On his second day of visit to his constituency, Wayanad, since being reinstated as an MP, Rahul was speaking after inaugurating a power line commissioned using the MPLAD funds, at a government-run hospital meant for tribals in the district.
Referring to the BJP concept of ‘vanvasi’, Rahul said there were two ideologies fighting in the country. “We say ‘adivasi’, the other side says ‘vanvasi’. There is a perverted logic behind the word ‘vanvasi’. It denies that you are the original owners of India and it restricts you to the jungle. The idea behind ‘vanvasi’ is that you belong to the jungle and you should never leave the jungle. This is not acceptable to us and we don’t accept this word. This is a distortion of your history and your tradition. It is an attack on your relationship with this country,’’ he said.
Rahul said the word ‘adivasi’ implied original owners, “who should be given rights over land, over forests and should be allowed an imagination to do whatever they want. As the owners of the land, you should be able to have your children study engineering, learn computers, become doctors and do business. You should also get the rights to land and the forest produce. You should not be restricted and categorised. The entire planet should be open to you,’’ he said, adding that ‘adivasis’ should have better access to education, health and work.
“For us, you are ‘adivasis’ and we can learn from you. We can learn from your history, tradition and way of life. Adivasi means a particular wisdom, a particular understanding of the environment, of the earth and a particular relation with the planet,’’ he said.