Sonia sympathises with Nandigram people;hits out at Left Front

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Behrampur/Malda, Apr 28 (UNI) Reviving the Nandigram issue before the coming Panchayat elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today slammed Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee led-Left Front Government for ''failing'' to properly deal with the situation there.

Addressing public rallies in Behrampore and Malda, Ms Gandhi said, ''The law and order situation in West bengal is deplorable.'' Sympathising with the ''suffering'' masses at Nandigram, she alleged that the people in the state had complained of torture and atrocity.

Clarifying that there was no room for any political violence in a vibrant democracy, Ms Gandhi reiterated that the Congress-led UPA government would not sacrifice its ideologies and policies at any cost even as the Left had extended support to the government.

She asserted that the Left support was solicited only to keep the communal forces at bay, and said, ''The Congress has every right to fight injustice wherever it is meted out.'' Ms Gandhi called upon the partymen to hammer out all differences and cooperate with Pradesh Congress Committee chief Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.

Ms Gandhi urged the party leaders to reach out to the people, particularly in rural areas, to spread awareness about development programmes, undertaken by the UPA government at the Centre.

She had also asked the leaders to create awareness of the role played by the party in formulating the waiving of farmers' loan worth Rs 60,000 crore.

She expressed concern at the skyrocketing prices of essentials, but averred that the state governments also could not wash their hands off.

Ms Gandhi said, ''Though the rising price of essentials is really a matter of concern, but the state governments also cannot shrug off their responsibility.'' ''The prices of rice and wheat have shot up at the international market, but we have been able to contain the prices of cooking gas and kerosene oil,'' she stated.

The Centre was sincere enough to implement the ''Bharat Nirman Yojana'' and ''100 Days Employment Scheme'', she added.

Meanwhile, reacting strongly to Ms Gandhi's criticism of the Left-ruled state for price rise of essentials, CPI(M) state Secretary Biman Basu said she was unaware of the fact about West Bengal and had been wrongly informed.

''No state government is at fault for the price rise. It is only the Centre, which is wholely responsbile,'' Mr Basu told reporters.

Observing that the agricultural crisis in the country soared high, Mr Basu said the nationwide production came down by four per cent. ''But agricultural production in West Bengal has risen by two per cent. She does not know this,'' he said.

''Ms Gandhi has matured so much in politics. But those, who feed her with information, have misinformed her,'' he opined.

Also sarcastically reacting to Ms Gandhi's Nandigram statement, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said the Congress should decide whether it would stand by the people of Nandigram or West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

UNI XC SJC SP KP2146

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