Gulbarga (Karnataka), Feb 1: Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday assured people in north Karnataka of a special financial package from the central government for the integrated development of the region.
“I will follow up with the central government the demand of the people in the region to grant a special financial package for their socio-economic development,” Gandhi said at a massive public meeting here, about 650km from Bangalore.
Gandhi was responding to the demand voiced by Railways Minister and Gulbarga MP Mallikarjun Kharge for the financial package from the central finance panel on the lines of similar packages granted to Telangana in Andhra Pradesh and Vidharbha in Maharashtra.
The central government has recently granted a special status to the six districts of this backward region – Bidar, Bellary, Gulbarga, Koppal, Raichur and Yadgir – by a constitutional amendment to provide the residents reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
Lauding the people of the region for voting for her party in the May 2013 assembly election, Gandhi said by giving a comfortable majority to the Congress, the people have voted for development, which, she said, suffered during the “corruption-riddled” Bharatiya Janata Party rule.
“By reposing faith in our party, the people have given us an opportunity to fulfill the promises made in the election manifesto through various welfare programmes and schemes aimed at removing the regional imbalance across the state,” Gandhi said.
In this context, she referred to the medical education complex of the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), which she inaugurated earlier in the day here.
The huge complex, housing a super-specialty hospital and colleges for medical, dental and nursing courses, was built at a cost of Rs.1,200 crore to provide healthcare needs of the region.
President Pranab Mukherjee laid the complex foundation in May 2010 when he was the finance minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA-2) government.
Terming the special status to the Hyderabad-Karnataka region a historic milestone, Gandhi said it was only the Congress-led UPA government which amended the law after the previous BJP-led NDA government rejected the demand for constitutional intervention.
“In addition to several progressive welfare schemes of the UPA government being implemented in the state, the Congress government has launched the subsidised foodgains scheme (Anna Bhagya) for the poor and free supply of milk thrice in a week to children reading in state-run and aided schools across the state,” Gandhi told about 50,000 people who gathered from all the six districts across the region.
Besides Kharge, union ministers from the state – Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes, Rehman Khan and K.H. Muniyappa, party’s general secretary Digvijay Singh, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were present at the occasion.