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Cong backs PMs reform agenda; Sonia says no threat to govt
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) today gave its full backing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent decisions on economic reforms, setting at rest any doubts about differences between the party and the government over these measures.

While agreeing with the government's argument that it had no choice but to "bite the bullet", CWC members also expressed their apprehension that it had been beaten by the Opposition parties in the "perception war" as it had lagged behind in placing its side of the story before the people.

Meeting today in the backdrop of the government's decision to hike diesel prices, cap subsidised LPG cylinders and introduce FDI in multi-brand retail, the CWC felt the party and the government should take necessary steps to explain its viewpoint and allay people's doubts in order to minimise the adverse political fallout of these measures.

The meeting was called essentially to dispel any public perception that the party and the government are at loggerheads over the recent decisions and ensure the two do not speak in different voices.

Briefing mediapersons after the meeting, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said the Congress had decided to hold public rallies across the country to explain the reasons for these reforms. Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit was invited for the meeting in connection with one such rally which the party proposes to organise in the Capital to counter the opposition propaganda on the reforms measures.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi set the tone for the CWC meeting when she endorsed the government's reforms agenda in her opening statement, stating firmly that it was necessary for the country to pursue these measures at this critical juncture.

In this context, Sonia Gandhi also remarked that it was unfortunate that one UPA ally (no names were mentioned) had withdrawn support to the UPA government in protest against these decisions but assured the party top brass that there is no threat to the ruling coalition as two allies continued to extend outside support. "There is no threat to the government, it is stable," Sonia Gandhi told the meeting.

Finance Minister P.Chidambaram and PM Manmohan Singh explained the reasons which compelled the government to take these decisions. Pointing to the global economic scenario, Chidambaram said the country's economy would have gone into a tailspin if these interventions had not been taken, adding it is imperative to cut down the subsidy bill, curb inflation and ensure higher investments to push up growth.

Planning ahead

  • Congress chief Sonia Gandhi set the tone for the CWC meeting when she endorsed the government's reforms
  • The CWC felt the party and the government should take necessary steps to explain its viewpoint and allay people's doubts in order to minimise the adverse political fallout of these measures
  • The Congress had decided to hold public rallies across the country to explain the reasons for these reforms

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