Bhattal meets Sonia to consolidate her position as PPCC chief

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New Delhi, Oct 12 (UNI) Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal along with party leaders and workers from Punjab today called on UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence at 10 Janpath.

Ms Bhattal's meeting with Ms Gandhi is being viewed by political observers as a move to consolidate her position with the party high command and to keep the dissidence in the PPCC under check.

Ms Bhattal was recently nominated as PPCC Chief from among half a dozen senior Congress leaders who were in the race for the top post.

In the faction-ridden Punjab Congress unit, Ms Bhattal would find it difficult to get support from former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, family of slain Chief Minister Beant Singh, firebrand leader Jagmeet Singh Brar and dethroned PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo.

The Congress leaders and workers who earlier profusely shouted slogans in favour of Ms Bhattal and Ms Gandhi included about a dozen former state ministers and present MLAs.

Ms Bhattal, however, told the mediapersons that they had come to express their gratitude to the UPA government for enhancing the Minimum Support Price of wheat to Rs 1000 per quintal, a hike of Rs 250 a quintal, never given by any government.

''The NDA government, of which Punjab Akalis were also partners, used to give a marginal increase of Rs 10-20 a quintal,'' she said hitting out at the Akalis.

''If the Akalis really want to help the debt-ridden farming community, they should announce Rs 50 as bonus per quintal on paddy in addition to the Central government's decision to give Rs 50 per quintal bonus on current paddy crop,'' she added.

Referring to the demand of Punjab BJP leaders and ministers in the Badal government that power cess should be withdrawn or compensated by the state government from treasury, Ms Bhattal said, ''They are just playing politics in an effort to consolidate their eroding base in the urban areas''.

Talking about the Atta-Dal scheme, she said the state government had badly failed to keep its promise. And it would be better if Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal takes help from the Congress.

''We will get Punjab Public Distribution System strengthened from the Centre,''she added.

UNI

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