100 percent sure of UPA III: Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) In one of her rare interactions with the media, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said Saturday she was confident of a UPA government being formed after next year's elections. She also said the elections will be held on schedule.

Gandhi was surrounded by the media immediately after the inaugural event of the National Media Centre which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. And she did not shy away from the interaction, though Manmohan Singh left immediately after the event.

Asked the obvious question by clamouring journalists about the fate of the UPA government and whether UPA-III (United Progressive Alliance-III) will be a reality, "Yes, of course, 100 percent," she immediately countered.

To a question about the possibility of early general elections, she said: "Our aim is to go till the end (of the government's tenure)." The term of the UPA-II government will end in May next year.

She also expressed hope that the food security bill will be passed in the monsoon session of parliament. "We are hopeful it will be passed," she said, without explaining why she was optimistic about the passage of her pet legislation despite the fact that the opposition, particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was seemingly bent on derailing its passage.

The Food Security Bill aims to give subsidised foodgrains to two-thirds of the population.

Asked what achievements the government would project in the elections, she said would be conferment of crucial rights to the people of this country - "so many rights we have given" - like the Right to Information, Right to Education and now Right to Food.

On the controversial issue of Telangana, protests over which led to the suspension of 12 MPs in the Lok Sabha Friday, Gandhi appeared to give the impression that the Congress was having a rethink. She said the A.K. Antony (defence minister) panel was "hearing the concerns of those affected" by the decision to grant statehood to Telangana and that another committee would be set up, but she did not elaborate.

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