Himansu Shekhar Rout

Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena Spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi and Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka harped on factors like increasing cost of living, inflation, unemployment and religious polarization that might go against the ruling parties in 2024 General Elections.

Chaturvedi was speaking on the topic ‘Election 2024: National Opposition parties, Mudda for rural India?’ at OTV’s annual conclave ‘Foresight 2024’ held in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

Speaking on banking and lending issues in rural India, the Shiv Sena spokesperson said, “People are forced to take loans from money lenders at a high interest rate for farming. However, climatic conditions like cyclones and droughts can create problems for their outcomes. That is one of the reasons behind the rising debts of farmers.”

As for MGNREGA wages, the Shiv Sena MP said that the wages have not changed for decades. “Rather, it has come down at many places. Another issue is that the cost of living has increased manifold both in the rural and urban areas. Food inflation has increased to an all-time high,” she said. 

“The income is not increasing, but the expenses are increasing. It leads to lesser asset creation, lesser investment and lesser savings, of course. These are the issues I would like to take to the people of the country. All the Indians need to understand that suitable action has not been taken to mitigate these problems as per the guarantee given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” she added.

During the UPA rule, there was a lot of intervention to alleviate poverty. MGNREGA was the biggest intervention, Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka said, adding that works are now being done in such a way that the land and resources are being taken away from the tribals. 

“I am giving you an example. The Bharat Mala Project is passing through my constituency. Land transaction is very low in my area. A tribal can’t sell his lands. He needs to have five acres of land before he has to sell to another tribal. For one acre of land, a tribal is paid Rs 50,000. In my area, an acre of land in a non-tribal area costs Rs 1 crore. It is fine to safeguard the interests of the tribals. They won’t be landless. The government is directing the laws where projects like Bharat Mala and big industries can take over the tribal lands. Thus, we are losing our land. They are taking away our Rs 50,000 with the dilution of the laws. They are sabotaging our Constitution by suspending our MPs. There is no discussion for passing of the bills,” the Koraput MP rued. 

“We (Congress) have done a lot for tribals. We have a special focus on tribals. We know what the government is doing to take away the rights of the tribals. This will be in our manifesto. We will try to explain,” he said.

Responding to a question that Shiv Sena is being perceived to be an urban-centric party while the BJP has somehow cracked the rural core, party spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, said, “Two things- Shiv Sena is also a Hindu-centric party... I look from Ramarajya perspective. Bhagwan Ram’s temple is going to be inaugurated on January 22.  Ramarajya is to remove all disparities. We will try to remove all inequalities. We try to give respect to women in society where law and order is supreme.”

She asserted, “Shiv Sena continues to believe in the Hindu way of life. It is not the Hindu political view of life. Politics as karma and politics as a dharma are two different things. We are mixing the two. Your karma can not be your political life. But your dharma has to supersede that karma. Everyone should have equal opportunities. During the Covid period, we saw no inequalities.”

Speaking on the use of social media for election campaigns, Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka said, “Social media is an important factor in winning elections. When we say we learnt from our mistakes, we in the 2014 elections completely ignored the platform. There is also a platform for political management and booth management. WhatsApp groups are crucial. We will tick all checkboxes. We will come with a narrative and a vision for the country.”