CM springs to Rahul's defence

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Hyderabad, Mar 13 (UNI) All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's visit to hill areas in support of agitating tribals against bauxite mining in Orissa found an echo in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly today.

The opposition Telugu Desam Party(TDP, Communist Party of India(Marxist) and the BJP alleged that the ruling Congress was adopting ''double standards'' by agitating in support of tribals in Orissa, but ''supressing'' the tribals' stir against bauxite extraction and Aluminium plant in Andhra Pradesh.

Stoutly defending Mr Gandhi's visit the Chief Minister said, ''Mr Gandhi is very much right in taking up the cause of tribals whose interests had not been protected by the Orissa government while granting the Bauxite mining lease to a private company.'' ''On the other hand, the Andhra Pradesh government has not given the bauxite mining lease to any private company. Only the state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Mineral Development Corporation will extract bauxite,'' he said.

Leader of the Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu questioned the government for going ahead with the Bauxite mining project, affecting the interests of the tribals at a time when Mr Gandhi was staging a stir for tribals in Orissa.

CPI(M) Floor Leader N Narasimaiah and BJP Floor leader G Kishan Reddy also criticised the Congress party on the issue.

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