Low turnout greeted the Congress President Sonia Gandhi at the Andhra Muslim College grounds on the Ponnuru road here when she arrived to address a campaign rally today, apparently reflecting the anger of the people of Seemandhra region over states's bifurcation.
It was Sonia's first visit to Seemandhra post bifurcation.
Around 7,000 people turned up for the rally, the only one she was addressing in Seemandhra ahead of the May 7 elections. The crowd remained indifferent and not once it cheered during her 30-minute address.
"I don't grudge your criticism or anger," the Congress Chief said, while taking pains to explain the reason for the state's bifurcation, and asking the people to "look forward".
"The state re-organisation was done in a manner that protects the interests of Seemandhra. It is done in full fairness to Seemandhra," she stressed, and listed out the various provisions in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act-2014 that would address the needs of the region.
"For the first time in the Reorganisation Act, a special development package has been given for Seemandhra.
"Special boards are being set up for distribution of Krishna and Godavari river waters while the Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project has been given national status that will ensure 90 per cent funding from the Centre," Sonia said.
She also said Seemandhra would get 90% of funds from the Centre as a grant and balance as a loan under the Special Category State status.
"I have no doubt...no doubt...that Seemandhra will become an economic powerhouse in the country. And, new cities like Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada, Guntur, Nellore will emerge as serious competitors to Hyderabad," she added.
Referring to Hyderabad, that has become cause of heartburn for Seemandhra people, the Congress president noted that every family from the region had one of its members working in Hyderabad.
"My party is committed to protect the social, cultural and financial interests of everyone in Hyderabad. In line with this, the Governor has been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring security of all in Hyderabad," she said.