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Sonia rally lifts party spirits

Sonia declares that she is prepared to visit Tamil Nadu any number of times if it would rejuvenate the party and its workers, reports GC Shekhar.
Hindustan Times | By G.C. Shekhar, Chennai
UPDATED ON APR 07, 2008 12:54 AM IST

The Congress is a hopelessly divided house in Tamil Nadu. Only for the sake of its president, Sonia Gandhi, do Congressmen in the state sink their differences and present a united picture.

This was the case on Saturday when Sonia addressed an impressive farmers and women’s rally at Karaikudi town, part of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency.

And Sonia had just one prescription for the state Congressmen if they were serious about restoring the party’s rule in Tamil Nadu — stay united, identify with the problems of the poor and sincerely attempt to solve them.

“It is the duty of this generation of Congress workers to strengthen the party, to work and revive the golden period of Kamaraj. If you are united and work hard together, identify yourselves with the people, their difficulties and problems, I have no doubt that the people of Tamil Nadu will again entrust their future and destiny only to the Congress,” she said amid cheers from the large crowd that had turned up braving the searing heat.

Sonia declared that she was prepared to visit Tamil Nadu any number of times if it would rejuvenate the party and its workers.

Listing out the various features of Chidambaram’s budget that directly addressed the issue of farmers, women, health and education Sonia said only the UPA had chosen to multiply the spending for these crucial sectors.

“We increased the agriculture credit that stood at Rs 83,000 crore when the UPA took over to Rs 2.4 lakh crore. It will be increased further to Rs 2.8 lakh crore this fiscal. We also brought down the rate of farm interest from 10 per cent to seven per cent," she pointed out.

She reiterated her government's commitment to write off Rs 60,000 crore worth of farm loans by the end of June in spite of criticism about the scheme.

Chidambaram in his speech said that every time Sonia visited the state the Congress cadres got really enthused and suggested that if she was unable to make frequent visits she should at least send Rahul Gandhi and Priaynaka Gandhi. Union ministers EVKS Elangovan and G.K. Vasan said that Tamil Nadu would always stand behind the Nehru family.

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