Sonia hints at more concessions for farmers

March 17th, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
(Lead, Changing Dateline)

Sangli/Osmanabad (Maharashtra), March 17 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will consider the plight of farmers in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra who have not benefited from the farm loans waiver, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said Monday, indicating more concessions for small farmers. Gandhi asserted that the Congress was always concerned about farmers and their welfare. Her comments came while referring to the Vidarbha region in eastern Maharashtra, which has witnessed a spate of suicides in the past few years by farmers unable to pay off loans.

She was addressing a rally in Sangli district in southwest Maharashtra, around 440 km from Mumbai, bordering Karnataka.

Earlier, in her whirlwind tour of the state, she had hinted at more concessions to the farming community at her rally in Osmanabad.

Gandhi reiterated that the government sympathised with the debt-ridden farmers and it had decided to take up the matter in right earnest.

Presenting the budget Feb 29, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had announced the waiver of farm loans to the tune of Rs.600 billion (Rs.60,000 crore).

Gandhi also listed the schemes for farmers, women and children undertaken by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as part of its social justice programmes.

As in Osmanabad, in Sangli too Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh earned praise from Gandhi for his efforts in solving farmers’ issues, the state’s other problems and for putting it on the fast track to development.

Deshmukh described Gandhi as “the architect of the historic farm loans waiver package” and appealed to the people of the state to strengthen the hands of the Congress for the country’s development.

Central leaders like Home Minister Shivraj Patil, senior state Congress leaders and others attended the Sangli rally.

The twin rallies by Gandhi assume significance as they come barely a week after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s rally in Beed district in Maharashtra’s politically critical Marathwada region in the backdrop of the farm loans waiver scheme.

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