Admitting that the decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh has caused much pain and heartburn to the people of Seemandhra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Friday that the new State would develop into a powerful economic house, setting an example for other states in the country.

“I empathise with the people of Seemandhra and admit that the formation of the new State has caused great pain to the people, but I have no doubt that the hard working and intelligent people here will develop the new State as a model one,’’ Ms. Sonia Gandhi said at an election meeting on Andhra Muslim College campus here.

The turnout for Ms Gandhi’s maiden public meeting in Seemandhra after the State bifurcation was not to the satisfaction of the leadership despite the best efforts by Congress leaders to mobilise crowds. Only two days ago, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had addressed a rally in Hindupur in Anantapur district.

Admitting that Hyderabad has been a bone of contention, Ms. Gandhi assured that Hyderabad would remain a common capital for 10 years and all procedures relating to admissions into educational institutions and quotas would continue for 10 years.

“This is my commitment to the people here. All educational opportunities will continue for 10 years, ‘’ she said.

Ms. Gandhi, who spoke in English reached out to the people by assuring that special development package which has been made part of A.P Reorganisation Bill-2013 would ensure comprehensive development of the region as 90 per cent of funding would be in the form of grants. Polavaram irrigation project has been given the national project status and two separate river boards would be set up for Krishna and Godavari river basins.

Later, Sonia Gandhi promised to enact laws bringing health security, shelter and pensions in unorganised sector under fundamental rights. Ms. Gandhi said that the right to health security, shelter and pension have been included in the party’s poll manifesto.

“Every eligible person would be given free medicine and free health care under the right to healthcare and would be provided a roof over his head under the right to shelter,’’ Ms. Gandhi said.

Hits out at TDP, BJP

Earlier, Ms. Gandhi took pot shots at the TDP and BJP and said that both the parties were two sides of the same coin. “Why did the TDP not walk away from the NDA government after the Godhra riots in 2002? “A vote for TDP is a vote for communal forces,’’ Ms. Gandhi said.

Listing out the achievements of the Congress-led UPA governments, Ms. Gandhi said that several landmark legislations including the right to education, right to information and right to food have been passed by successive governments of UPA-1 and UPA-2.

“We take our promises seriously and implement them,’’ Ms. Gandhi said winding up her campaign in Seemandhra which goes to polls on May 7.

AICC in-charge of AP affairs Digvijaya Singh, Union Ministers K. Chiranjeevi, Panabaka Lakshmi, J.D Seelam, PCC president N. Raghuveera Reddy and former minister Kanna Lakshminarayana were present.

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