The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia quota prod

Chandigarh, Oct. 7: Sonia Gandhi wants all other Congress-ruled states to follow Andhra Pradesh in providing Muslims with education and job quotas.

At the sixth conclave of party chief ministers here, she praised Andhra chief minister Y.S.R. Reddy who has provided 5 per cent reservation for economically backward Muslims in educational institutions and the public services.

The Congress chief is understood to have asked the remaining 14 chief ministers at the two-day conclave to try and see if they could emulate Reddy.

Sonia, who opened the meeting, focused mainly on the implementation of social schemes, asking the chief ministers to ensure the programmes benefit the poor and aren’t hijacked by middlemen.

The governments ' if they are coalition regimes 'must also let the beneficiaries know that most of these schemes are the Congress’s own and not its allies’.

The Congress president said that just having development programmes isn’t enough. The point is to successfully implement them and only close monitoring can ensure that.

The first job of the states is to break the stranglehold of contractors and middlemen ' who are often in league with bureaucrats and politicians ' on the implementation of these programmes. Else, the poor and weaker sections of society would drift away from the party, hurting “our electoral prospects”.

“Elections are won on achievements that can be seen and felt by the people in their day-to-day lives. It is this that we have to collectively strive for,” Sonia said.

“A coalition arrangement makes it all the more necessary to carve out a niche for ourselves so that people know what the unique contribution of the Congress is.

“We have to make people aware that the national common minimum programme mostly reflects the Congress’s own manifesto for the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. And achievements of the CMP are, therefore, naturally the fulfilment of our own objectives,” she said.

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