Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sonia inaugurates govt hospital in Malegaon

This 200-bed government hospital was inaugurated in Malegaon by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on June 30, 2009.

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday inaugurated a government hospital in the textile town of Malegaon which had been a longstanding demand of residents.

Sonia promised a civil hospital in 2006 when she visited Malegaon after four serial bomb blasts had killed 31 here. It is the first government-run hospital in this town which has a population of 7 lakh. “We were in trouble because of the blasts the last time I came here. I had then asked the chief minister that there should be a proper government hospital in Malegaon. I am very happy after seeing this 200-bed hospital,’’ Sonia said.

This was Sonia’s first visit to Maharashtra after the UPA came to power at the Centre for the second consecutive time. People of the country have faith in the Congress and it was reflected clearly in last month’s election results, she said.

Malegaon, a 10th-century city located about 300 km from Mumbai, did not have a single government hospital all this while and had to depend only on private hospitals. So, the last time the Congress chief came here, a government hospital ranked top on the list of demands of Malegaon residents.

“Malegaon needs progress. There are more poor people here. Several powerloom weavers and their children have deafness. I have asked the CM to look into the problem and the central government will help the state,’’ she said. But many Malegaon residents, despite appreciating Sonia’s concern, said she had been provided with wrong information and not many in the town were deaf. Around 4 lakh people are dependent on the powerloom industry.

Taking a firm stand on the attack on North Indians in Maharashtra, Sonia said: “Our government will protect all migrants who come to Maharashtra from several parts of the country for their livelihood.’’

Sonia seemed to have the elections on her mind when she gave details on how the Congress was helping the minorities.“Minorities, Dalits, farmers and women have to be given special attention. That was why we constituted the Sachar Committee. Districts with a greater percentage of minorities have been provided with funds and special funds have been released for children,’’ she said, adding that farmers and Dalits were given a Rs 100-crore development fund.

CM Ashok Chavan said that Malegaon will be provided with ‘as much funds as required for development. “Mrs Gandhi has fulfiled her promise of a hospital,’’ said Chavan.

Union health minister Gulam Nabi Azad, who began his speech in Marathi, changed to fluent Urdu after the audience demanded it. All Muslims in Malegaon speak Urdu. “We are working on many projects envisaged by Soniaji under the National Rural Health Scheme,’’ he said. Calling Malegaon “mini-India,’’ Azad said people from Hyderabad, UP, Delhi and Gujarat had migrated to this town for their livelihood and it was one of the best examples of unity and integrity.

Sonia appeared confused while trying to pronounce Malegaon Municipal Corporation mayor Najmuddin Khajoorwale’s name. As the audience laughed, a smiling Sonia said: “Kuchh galat kaha mein ne (Did I say something wrong)?’’ But her honest admission of her mistake was enough for the crowd to forgive her.

The Times of India , July 1, 2009