The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia quiet on quota, talks of prices

New Delhi, May 15: Sonia Gandhi was silent on reservations and eloquent on farmers and handloom weavers when she addressed the Congress parliamentary party before being sworn in as MP for the second time in the 14th Lok Sabha.

The Congress president made no reference to the quota proposal and the extreme reactions it has provoked the country over. As human resource development minister Arjun Singh comes out with statements day after day, party MPs waiting for a word from the “big two” ' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia ' got nothing.

Sonia advised the Prime Minister and his government to check the price line and monitor the “wheat situation”.

“This is that time of the year when all of us look at the skies often praying for the rains. I am sure the government is closely monitoring the situation and will not allow the prices of essential commodities to be subject to speculation on the fate of the monsoon,” she said.

Given the disquiet in the Congress over the government’s decision to import wheat, she said: “While we must ensure that there are sufficient buffer stocks, the interests of wheat growers must be protected from the impact of any large-scale imports.”

Reviewing the poll results in five states, Sonia said Bengal was “very disappointing”. “We now have a huge task ahead of us.”

The meeting was the first after Sonia’s “record” win in Rae Bareli. But no MP, not even Ajit Jogi, raised the call for making her Prime Minister. Singh was the first to greet her, with a huge garland, and the other MPs followed, with bouquets or single roses.

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