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Sonia kick-starts poll campaign in Andhra Pradesh

By Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
February 27, 2009 17:50 IST
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The United Progressive Alliance chairperson and Congress party President Sonia Gandhi kicked off her election campaign seeking mandate for another term on the basis of the "good work" done by UPA at the Centre and by the Y S Rajasekhara Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh.

Sonia Gandhi addressed a mammoth rally of tribal people in Kothagudem town of Khammam district of Telangana region. More than two lakh people including women turned up in a scorching noon to see and listen to Sonia Gandhi.

An assertive looking Sonia Gandhi exuded confidence that in the coming elections as well, the aam admi will remain with the Congress as it has remained during the last five years.

"When I had come here earlier we had promised to help each other and move forward hand in hand and I am happy that both of us have fulfilled this promise", she said.

Sonia evoked the memories of late prime minister, Indira Gandhi and the special relationship the Nehru Gandhi family and the Congress party had with Andhra Pradesh.

She also thanked the people of the state for their support which played a crucial role in bringing the Congress-led UPA to power in 2004.

The Congress president stressed that, secularism, equality, social justice and prosperity through development will remain the core values for the Congress party.

Taking a dig at the opposition parties, Sonia Gandhi said, "For some people secularism, social justice and people's welfare are mere slogans, hollow promises but for Congress they are the principles of life".

In a scathing attack on the Telugu Desam Party, Sonia Gandhi said that the memories of the severe crisis and negligence of the Chandra Babu Naidu government driving the farmers to suicide and causing misery still saddens her.

"I am surprised when I see that the people who can not dare to come before the people of the state are talking a lot before only the media", she said.

It is being seen as Sonia's all out support to Chief Minister Reddy against allegations of corruption levelled by the Telugu Desam and other opposition parties in the state.

 "We have full trust in you and in our work. Our performance, UPA government's performance, YSR government's performance speaks for itself," Sonia said.

Talking of the performance of the UPA government, she said that National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the waiver of farmers' loan had brought a major relief to the people. Similarly various initiatives of the YSR government in Andhra Pradesh including health insurance for the poor, Udyog Shri, free electricity and Jalayaganam have also brought prosperity.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad