M A I N   N E W S

CWC meet today, price rise on agenda
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, February 4
When the Congress top brass meets here tomorrow for the party’s working committee meeting, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities will figure prominently in the deliberations as food inflation touched a new high of 17.56 per cent today.

The meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is being held on the eve of the conference of Chief Ministers called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss rising food inflation as a number of executive decisions taken by the Centre have to be implemented by the state governments.

While the brainstorming sessions will prepare a road map for tackling the ticklish issue of rising prices, there was more cause for concern as with costlier potatoes and pulses pushed food inflation to 17.56 per cent for the week ended January 23 with experts declaring that prices would rise further in the next 2-3 weeks. This is the second week in a row that food inflation has increased. For the week ended January 16, it stood at 17.4 per cent.

Besides food prices, the meetings are also expected to take note of the report of a Prime Minister-appointed expert group, headed by Kirit Parikh, which has suggested raising LPG rates CWC meet today, price rise on agenda by Rs 100 per cylinder and kerosene by Rs 6 a litre.

Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Bannerjee has publicly opposed any hike in fuel prices on the plea that it would burden the common man.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will brief the members about the reasons for rising prices and the steps being taken by the UPA government to rein in inflation.

Price rise has been agitating the Congress leadership and the cadres that feel the party’s “aam admi” plank has taken a severe beating and it could have serious ramifications.

The previous Congress Working Committee meeting held last August had also discussed the hike in prices of essential commodities in the wake of prevailing drought conditions.

Since this is the first CWC meeting after the eruption of the Telangana crisis, that issue could also figure in tomorrow’s deliberations, especially since the Centre has constituted a five-member expert group to look into the contentious matter. 



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