Medha Patkar founded the Narmada Bachao Aandolan.
The BJP on Friday hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for marching with activist Medha Patkar on his Bharat Jodo Yatra march that is traversing the length of the country.
“Congress and Rahul Gandhi have time and again shown their animosity towards Gujarat and Gujaratis. By giving Medha Patkar a central place in his Yatra, Rahul Gandhi shows that he stands with those elements who denied water to Gujaratis for decades. Gujarat will not tolerate this,” Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said.
The BJP has been critical of Medha Patkar’s campaign against Gujarat’s Sardar Sarovar Dam which was inaugurated in 2017. Ms Patkar founded the Narmada Bachao Aandolan, saying that the water from the dam would have displaced thousands of families.
Walking with Ms Patkar in Maharashtra’s Washim, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday had targeted the BJP, saying that polls can be rigged through social media and that if social media companies want, they can make any party win an election.
Without naming any party, he also said that communal violence has been planted as a strategic weapon to cause disharmony in society by one ideology and its leaders.
Mr Gandhi made these remarks while interacting with Ms Patkar and activist GG Parikh, among others.
“Even if the EVM (electronic voting machine) is secure, Indian elections may be rigged through social media. If large social media companies want, they can make any party win an election. Systematic bias is being applied there and my social media handles are a live example of it,” the Congress MP said.
A statement by the Congress said during the meeting, the representatives raised relevant issues like political democracy and communal harmony, among others.
Speaking about political democracy, Ms Patkar said it is not confined to the doubts surrounding the EVMs, but also means that a rigorous manifestation of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) is a must.
She spoke about citizens’ participation in the drafting and crafting of the manifesto of all parties, whereby legal reforms must be made to make the manifesto binding on all political parties.
Ms Patkar highlighted the relevance of strengthening gram sabhas and local bodies, saying Mahatma Gandhi had envisioned it. She also emphasised reforming laws like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and labour laws for the benefit of farmers.
Irfaan Engineer, a human rights activist, raised issues relating to communal disharmony, polarization and hate-mongering.
Mr Gandhi responded by saying, “Communal violence has been planted as a strategic weapon to cause disharmony in the society by one ideology and its leaders.”
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