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Sonia calls for empowerment of women

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday reiterated the desperate need to empower women in the country.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2006 17:11 IST

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday reiterated the desperate need to empower women in the country.

Addressing a mammoth Congress rally in this hill town in the scenic Kangra valley, the Congress president said true progress could not take place "until women are empowered".

"So all steps must be taken to give them their rights and powers."

She emphasised the need for the eradication of poverty by various means, including the reintroduction of the 20 point programme of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

"We will soon introduce the 20 point programme in our effort to remove poverty in an effective manner," the UPA chairperson said.

She elaborated the achievements of the Manmohan Singh government and cited the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Right to Information Act as highlights.

Gandhi also called for "new plans" to revive agricultural economy saying: "Everything can wait but agriculture cannot."

She also hit out at the opposition while calling upon the people to fight "antinational" and "sectarian" forces.

She said the welfare of the weaker sections and farming sector led the agenda of the Congress-led UPA government.

The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee had mobilised large crowds for the rally, a day ahead of the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

While quoting Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi reminded the people of his concern for farmers.

She said that to achieve higher growth in the agriculture sector, new plans would have to be evolved.

The government would set up a National Cultural and Technological Mission to spearhead the plans, the Congress chief said.

Kangra district being the bastion of other backward classes, Gandhi highlighted the government's priority to safeguard the interests of the economically weaker sections as well as minorities.

She appreciated the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh for its landmark achievements in school education but warned that employment avenues would have to be generated to meet the needs of the educated youth.

Present on the rostrum with Sonia Gandhi were central ministers Ambika Soni and Anand Sharma, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, state Congress president Viplove Thakur as well as Chandresh Kumari, the local Congress legislator.