NDA to be blamed for farmers’ plight: PM, Sonia

March 9th, 2008 - 4:25 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) At a Congress rally attended by thousands, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi Sunday blamed the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for the plight of farmers. “The six year NDA rule ignored the interests of farmers, as a result they had to face a lot of problems,” said Manmohan Singh at the mammoth rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Ground attended by farmers who along with women made up a considerable chunk of the crowd.

Gandhi, who spoke next, said: “Our farmers are distressed because of the wrong policies of the previous government.”

She thanked the prime minister, who heads the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, for waiving off Rs.600 billion worth of loans for small farmers, a decision announced in the budget for 2008-09. Around 40 million farmers stand to benefit from the move.

Gandhi said farmers were providers of foodgrains and should be taken care of.

Called the “Dhanyawad Abhinandan” rally, it was organised by the Congress to send across the message of a farmer-friendly government ahead of Lok Sabha elections due next year.

The crowds intermittently broke into thunderous slogans, lauding the government’s move. The show of support brought a smile on the faces of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Minister for State for Personnel and Public Grievances Suresh Pachouri and other party leaders present.

“The huge turnout suggests how much faith farmers and poor people have in the present government,” said Rampal Singh, a farmer from Alwar, Rajasthan.

Most of the rally participants rally were from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Delhi.

There were innumerable flags, banners, and placards across the ground, eulogising Sonia Gandhi, her son and MP Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, and the UPA government, adding colour to the surroundings.

Though Pranab Mukherjee had Saturday ruled out the possibility of an early election even after repeated threats from Left partners of withdrawal of support over the Indo-US nuclear deal, observers feel the massive response to Sunday’s gathering could only trigger an early poll.

The rally drew a much bigger gathering than that organised by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Feb 24 at the same venue.

The rally saw sundry speakers eulogising the Nehru-Gandhi family for its contribution to the cause of farmers and the ‘aam aadmi’ (common man) over the years.

Nearly two-thirds of India’s population is involved in agriculture.

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