Sonia sounds poll bugle in MP

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Ujjain, MP, Jun 20 (UNI) Congress President and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today accused the BJP of ''politicising'' both development and religion in Madhya Pradesh and called for the ''unseating'' of the saffron party here, virtually sounding the election bugle in the state.

Addressing a farmers' convention at this ancient temple town during her one-day visit to the state, Ms Gandhi lauded the pro-poor stand of the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre and claimed that the condition of ryots improved during the Congress rule.

She pointed out that the UPA government had provided an unprecedented Rs 60,000-crore debt waiver to peasants and recalled several pro-farmer decisions, including raising support price of paddy.

Defending Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the issue of galloping inflation, Ms Gandhi blamed state governments for not taking strict action against black-marketeers and hoarders.

''Several state regimes are not reducing taxes and are putting the blame on the Centre,'' she alleged.

She dismissed as ''baseless'' the BJP allegation that the Congress-led UPA government was discriminating against the state.

On an average, the annual Central assistance to the state stood at Rs 3,000 crore but was ''reduced'' to Rs 1,500 crore during the National Democratic Alliance rule. However, the UPA regime ''doubled'' assistance to Rs 6,000 crore in 2007-08, she claimed.

Accompanied by state Congress President Suresh Pachouri, Ms Gandhi offered prayers and performed rituals at the Mahakaleshwar temple. She announced that a gold 'kalash' would be donated to the shrine.

At another peasants' convention in Rewa, she alleged that funds for Centrally-sponsored schemes were not being adequately utilised in Madhya Pradesh where corruption had reached its nadir.

''Under the Public Distribution System, the Centre has made 35 kg foodgrain available per poor person but the state regime was distributing only 20 kg per beneficiary,'' she alleged.


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