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Strengthen Sonia's hands: Manmohan

AKOLA (MAHARASHTRA), OCT. 10. Addressing a rally for the Congress-NCP combine here today, in the cotton-rich belt of Vidarbha, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, today said he was "begging" the people of the region to strengthen the hands of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi.

"I will take special care to ensure full implementation of the promises made by the Congress and its allied parties to the people of Vidarbha and Marathawada. So, brothers and sisters, today I have come to beg to you to strengthen the hands of Soniaji," the senior Congress leader said.

"Soniaji has come forward to take our country forward, and along with that Sharad Pawar (the NCP chief), who is a great leader of our country, has also come forward shoulder to shoulder," he said.

Development issues

Dr. Singh said the United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre was aware of the problems of the people in the backward regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada. He said he would monitor the development of the area personally.

"I promise the people that I will visit Akola once in a year to review the progress of the developmental work in the region in general and in Akola in particular. There is an urgent need for giving speed and direction to developmental work in the region," he said.

Necessary measures would be taken up on a priority basis to address problems such as lack of access to drinking water, power, unemployment, infrastructure and irrigation.

He said there should be better coordination between the Centre and the State to ensure development.

Referring to the suicides committed by farmers in Vidarbha, the Prime Minister said steps would be taken to improve their financial condition and crop loans would be given at minimum rates of interest.

Later he addressed a rally at Nanded in Marathwada.

The public rally to be addressed by Dr. Singh at Dhule was cancelled.

PTI, UNI

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