ANDHRA PRADESH

Sonia against free power to farmers: Naidu

TIRUPATI, APRIL 24. The Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, today said the AICC president, Sonia Gandhi, was opposed to giving free power to agriculture in the State as at her election meetings she did not utter a word on the issue.

Addressing an election meeting at Srikalahasti from where the district Minister, B. Gopalakrishna Reddy, was running for a fourth consecutive term, Mr. Naidu cautioned voters not to fall prey to the crocodile tears being shed by Congress leaders on the plight of farmers. He also questioned the Congress's new-found love for DWCRA.

He charged the Congress with hoodwinking women by talking about DWCRA and self-help groups. He accused the Congress of paying lip sympathy for the uplift of women. The TDP allotted party ticket to as many as 50 women candidates in the election against 21 seats provided by the Congress. "Is it the social justice they want to provide to women?" he asked.

In a strident attack on the Congress, he accused the party of joining hands with a separatist party like the TRS and thereby undermining the interest and unity of the State. In a bid to offset the criticism against him that he ignored the interest of farmers, Mr. Naidu said he was contemplating implementing a Rs.60,000-crore plan for farmers' welfare and rural development if the TDP was voted to power again.

Introducing the BJP candidate of the Tirupati Lok Sabha seat, N. Venkataswamy, to voters, he said only the Vajpayee Government at the Centre and the TDP Government in the State would ensure development.

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