Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who addressed an election rally in Jharkhand's Khuti district Saturday, appealed to people to vote for the party in the Lok Sabha polls to provide a strong and stable government at the centre.
"Remember this is not an assembly election. This is a Lok Sabha election. Vote for the Congress to ensure a strong and stable government at the centre," Gandhi said.
"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has done a commendable job during his tenure. The central government brought cheer to the faces of farmers by waiving loan worth Rs.65,000 crore (Rs.650 billion) and implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to ensure jobs for people and prevent migration," she added.
Gandhi's rally was preceded by an eight-hour-long gunbattle between Maoist rebels and paramilitary forces in Musanga Jorpa jungle of the district, about 70 km from here.
Officials said additional security forces were sent from here to support those battling the Maoists. Two security personnel and three guerrillas were injured in the gunfight.
At the rally, Gandhi appealed to youths who have joined the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoists (CPI-Maoists) to return to mainstream society. She also accused other political parties of trying to divide the nation on communal lines.
She was scheduled to address another rally in Chatra district later Saturday.