No bar on people working anywhere in India: Sonia

March 17th, 2008 - 5:11 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Osmanabad (Maharashtra), March 17 (IANS) Accusing the opposition of seeking to divide people on the basis of caste, community and region, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Monday asserted all Indians have a right to live and work anywhere in the country. The government would ensure that people are not deprived of their basic rights to live and work wherever they want.

Her comments were with reference to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s campaign against north Indians settled in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra.

Addressing a massive farmers’ rally in Osmanabad, around 475 km from Mumbai, Gandhi said the central government’s decision to waive off farm loans amounting to Rs.60,000 crore (Rs.600 billion) proved that the “Congress was concerned about the common man”.

“It was a historic decision by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government and we don’t need certificates from anybody about its performance,” she said referring to its criticism from the opposition.

The loan waiver has come as a lifesaver for hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families weighed down by the burden of loans, which they were unable to pay off. Many of them were forced to commit suicide, especially in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, in recent years.

Gandhi said the government felt the agony of the farmers and it decided to take up the matter in right earnest.

She hinted the government might consider similar proposals, but did not elaborate.

After addressing the Osmanabad rally, Sonia departed for another rally at Sangli, around 440 km south-west of Mumbai, bordering Karnataka state.

The two rallies in Maharashtra are part of Congress efforts to propagate its social justice schemes and programmes.

The rallies also assume significance since they come barely a week after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s rally in Beed district in the politically critical Marathwada region in the backdrop of the farm loans waivers scheme.

She also lauded the efforts of the Democratic Front coalition government led by the Congress in Maharashtra in tackling the problems of the farmers and poor in the state.

Setting at rest all speculation about any leadership change in the state barely a year before general elections, Gandhi appreciated Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s sincerity in solving the state’s problems and putting it on the path of progress.

A highly confident Deshmukh, speaking in Hindi instead of the customary Marathi, appealed to people to strengthen the hands of the Congress to take the country ahead.

Senior state Congress leaders attended the rally as also an estimated gathering of over 200,000 farmers at Osmanabad in south-central Maharahstra bordering Andhra Pradesh.

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