Andhra Pradesh is number one state, says Sonia Gandhi


Nellore : Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday said Andhra Pradesh had emerged as the number one state in the country.

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Lavishing praise on Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, she said the state was surging ahead on all fronts.

“Ever since the Congress party came to power in the state in 2004 under theleadership of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the state has emerged as number one in the country in accelerating economic growth, expanding irrigation and ensuring housing, health, education and social security to weaker sections of our society,” she said while addressing a massive public rally here.

During her day-long visit to Nellore and Prakasam districts in south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Gandhi launched the second phase of “Rajiv Arogyasri”, a community health insurance scheme for the poor and named after her late husband Rajiv Gandhi, dedicated the Krishnapatnam port to the nation, laid the foundation stone for an electricity project and interacted with women’s thrift groups.

She said the insurance scheme was unique. “The state government has taken a very major step in ensuring that the problems of poor families who live in villages are mitigated,” she added.

Gandhi was all praise for the Andhra Pradesh government for taking up irrigation projects on a massive scale and noted that the state was ahead of others in providing loans to farmers.

Stating that the Congress party was giving the highest priority to farmers’ welfare, she referred to the massive loan waiver scheme announced by the central government.

Gandhi, who landed at Renigunta near Tirupati, reached Nellore by helicopter. Accompanied by the chief minister and some central and state ministers, she later dedicated the Krishnapatnam port to the nation.

Built at a cost of Rs.20 billion, the port is expected to give a major boost to the development in Nellore, which is emerging as a key industrial hub.

Officials said the port would emerge as the country’s largest private port by 2020 with a cargo capacity of 125 million tonnes per annum.

Speaking on the occasion, Gandhi praised the state for developing state-of-the-art infrastructure. “Andhra Pradesh has shown the way to the entire country that the government and the private sector can work together to create the best infrastructure” she maintained.

Gandhi also laid the foundation stone for the Krishnapatnam thermal power project to generate 1,600 MW of electricity. The government-owned AP Power Generation Corporation (APGenco) is building the project at a cost of Rs 83 billion.

She later left for Ongole in Prakasam district, where she interacted with members of women’s thrift groups.