Sonia to address two rallies in Maharashtra Monday

March 15th, 2008 - 11:40 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
(Lead, Changing dateline)

New Delhi/Mumbai, March 15 (IANS) With the Congress competing with its allies to claim credit for the Rs.600 billion farm loan waiver, party president Sonia Gandhi will address two farmers’ rallies in Maharashtra Monday. She is expected to address public rallies in Osmanabad in Marathwada region and Sangli in western Maharashtra.

Gandhi’s first farmers’ rally outside the national capital assumes political significance when Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has already made attempts to project the ambitious scheme as his idea.

Pawar recently addressed a farmers’ rally at Beed in Marathwada, as the NCP sought to project him as the man behind the loan waiver package.

Sanjay Nirupam, Congress MP and Maharashtra Congress spokesperson, told IANS: “Sonia Gandhi will attend two rallies which are expected to be attended by more than 200,000 people.”

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram announced the Rs.60,000 crore (Rs.600 billion) loan waiver for debt-ridden small and marginal farmers as part of the budget presented Feb 29.

The Congress has chalked out a strategy that includes public rallies and a publicity blitz to take the credit for the populist move ahead of the general elections slated for next year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gandhi addressed a massive public rally here last Sunday.

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