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Sonia Gandhi backs Mumbai migrants

india Updated: Jun 20, 2008 02:53 IST
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday came down heavily on the political parties that promote regionalism in the country, especially in Mumbai. She decried violence against the migrants in Mumbai and asked the Congress workers to counter the ‘separatist elements’.

Although she didn’t take names at the party’s convention at the NSE Goregaon, Gandhi made a point against anti-migrant political outfits like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena. Both parties, in particular the MNS, have been opposing the very existence of the north Indians in the city.

Gandhi took a cue from Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s remark that everyone who came to Mumbai was a Mumbaikar and assured that her party was committed to secure the migrants’ lives. “Because Mumbai is the country’s economic hub and it inhabits variety of people. We are immensely proud of this city.”

Ironically, minutes before Gandhi disapproved of violence against the common people, some sections of the Congress workers engaged fistfights at the venue. They shouted slogans demanding removal of the Chief Minister and threw chairs before being escorted away by the police. Later, the police identified troublemakers as the CM aspirant and Revenue Minister Narayan Rane’s supporters. Rane denied he had any association with the protesters. The police arrested nine workers whose names were not known till late in the evening.

The State Congress had organised a one-day convention with an intention of educating the junior workers about the achievements of the Centre and State Government. Senior ministers interacted with them on various subjects like the nuclear deal that the country proposes to sign with the US and the global economics behind the rising fuel prices. The party felt the Opposition propaganda on these subjects might go against it in the next General and Assembly elections.

Earlier addressing a massive farmers’ rally at Loni in Ahmednagar district, she said that inflation was a matter of concern.

She attributed the current inflation and price hike of all essential commodities to the drastic increase in the price of petrol and diesel in the international market. “It is a challenge for us”, Congress president admitted and added that government was taking all the steps to provide some relief to the people.

“Congress had asked all its party governments to reduce state level taxes on petrol and diesel and all the party-ruled governments had followed suit, giving some relief to the common man”, Gandhi said. Gandhi, who earlier presented ‘no dues’ certificates to two farmers reiterated party’s commitment to the welfare of farmers.