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CWC meet
Act against graft, price rise, Congress tells Manmohan
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

Sonia to finalise Prez candidate

AICC chief Sonia Gandhi was authorised to finalise the party’s candidate for the post of President. Ironically, the resolution authorising Sonia was moved at the end of the day-long meeting of the CWC by Pranab Mukherjee, who is said to be a frontrunner in the presidential race.

New Delhi, June 4
With members of the Congress Working Committee expressing concern over rising inflation, especially the latest hike in petrol prices, both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today admitted that the country is going through testing times but assured a worried party that the economic situation can be retrieved.

Corruption and price rise dominated the day-long proceedings of the extended CWC meeting where a number of speakers repeatedly underlined that these two issues were hurting the image of the Congress and the UPA government and urged the leadership to take effective steps to deal with these twin problems. Kerala party unit chief Ramesh Chennithala, who was the first to speak at length about the adverse impact of the recent hike in petrol prices, was followed by several others who pointed out that it had become difficult to explain the situation to the aam admi.

The CWC met at a time when the Congress-led UPA government is beset with allegations of corruption and policy paralysis even as the grim economic situation has added to its woes.

Responding to the concerns of speakers, the Prime Minister said the Indian economy is going through difficult times because of circumstances over which the government has no control but expressed confidence that the country will “overcome” these testing times.

Pranab Mukherjee admitted that the economic situation is grim but added that it is not as dire as it was in 1991 as the country’s fundamentals are very strong.

“The situation is difficult, inflation has to be contained, trade deficit has to be brought down but this does not mean that the situation cannot be retrieved,” Mukherjee told presspersons while briefing media persons about the day’s proceedings.

Defending the recent petrol hike, Mukherjee said that it was not possible for the Central Government to absorb the entire hike, adding that state governments also have to share the burden.

Besides the burning issue of price rise, the ongoing anti-graft campaign launched by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev and its adverse impact on the party’s image also figured in the discussions.

While Congress president Sonia Gandhi defended the PM without naming Team Anna, the Prime Minister also had strong words to say about the civil society activists. He remarked that ”canards and falsehoods are being spread” and described those making these charges as “disparate, desperate elements unified only by their opposition to our government.”

He said that it is being alleged that the UPA government has swindled unbelievable amounts of money in every activity, stating emphatically, “Nothing can be further from the truth.”





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