M A I N   N E W S

Foreign experts offer to resign, Left elated
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 22
Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia is expected to convene a meeting next week, soon after his return from trip abroad, to consider the offer of resignation by experts from multilateral agencies, following a threat from the Left economists to quit the panel.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is the Chairman of the commission, and is on a visit abroad, has reportedly refused to comment on the issue at this juncture.

Dr Singh in his maiden press conference had, however, defended the presence of the experts from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other bodies in the mid-term review of the panel.

The panel’s consultative group on industry which met today saw Left-oriented economists boycotting the meeting and two representatives from the multilateral agencies not attending the meeting.

However, Mr Arun Maira of Boston Consultancy Group, attended the meeting. He said: “Unless and until someone kicks me out or tells me that I am useless, I would keep coming.”

He said he was not aware of other foreign experts offering to resign after a controversy broke out on their involvement because of Left parties’ objections.

The Left parties welcomed reports of the offer of the resignations. “It is the right decision,” CPM polit buro member Sitaram Yechury told reporters when asked about his party’s reaction to reports of nine outside experts on various panels offering to quit.

CPI leader A.B. Bardhan also welcomed the resignation offer, saying that their appointment was unwarranted.

However, he said the matter would be resolved by the Prime Minister who had assured them that a decision on the issue would be taken keeping in mind the questions raised by the Left parties.

Earlier, several Left-wing economists on various Planning Commission panels had threatened to resign if the foreign experts appointed by Mr Ahluwalia were not shown the door.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the Left parties today met the Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to discuss the implementation of the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP).

They were assured of the various concrete steps being taken by the government, including legislative, to implement the NCMP in the coming months.

CPI(M) polit bureau member Sitaram Yechury told reporters, after he and his colleague Prakash Karat had a luncheon meeting with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, that the “things are moving in the right direction.”

“The Finance Minister informed us about various steps, including legislative, to be implemented in the coming months in line with the Common Minimum Programme (CMP),” he said.

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