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Congress calls meet to discuss drought, price rise

August 17, 2009 22:58 IST

A meeting of the Congress Working Committee, to be held on August 19, is scheduled to discuss price rise and drought. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already held intensive discussions with chief ministers from across India and senior ministers in his Cabinet on drought, price rise and the measures that need to be taken by the government to minimise the effects of drought.

It was initially decided that the CWC would be held last week, where the party would give directions to the government on how to contain price rise and suggest various measures on how the situation can be tackled. The Cabinet was scheduled to meet after that, followed by the meeting of chief ministers, where the party would get the credit for the measures initiated by the government, as in earlier cases, when the government has acted at the prodding of the party.

But this time, there appears to be a mismatch between the party and the government. The party leadership failed to call a meeting of the CWC in time, while the government, under the guidance of the prime minister, has suddenly gone into overdrive.

Ever since the Parliament session ended, Dr Singh has lined up a series of high-profile meetings related to judiciary, judicial reforms, internal security, Naxal menace, drought, price rise, and these will be followed by meetings on climate change, environmental issues, and a meeting of agriculture ministers.

On Monday, the prime minister addressed the first meeting of the day at 9 am, and the chief ministers' conference went on till late in the night.

Interestingly, the prime minister's statement on Pakistan, warning chief ministers about terror attacks from across the border, is a far cry from his joint statement with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, which created such a furor within the Congress. Dr Singh is now obviously not in the mood to give anyone any opportunity to criticise him any further.

A senior leader said that with the government going all out to create fresh initiatives like bringing in amendments in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the party leadership would have to really put on their thinking caps to give new directions to the government.

Apart from the CWC members and permanent invitees, the chief ministers from the Congress-ruled states have also been invited to the meeting. The CWC is also expected to fix the date for a one-day meeting of the All India Congress Committee.

Speculations have been rife about a reshuffle in the AICC, which is expected to take place after August 20, the birthday of Rajiv Gandhi. Sources say that the list of new office-bearers is ready, but since the CWC is only two days away, the changes are expected to be made soon after that.

Renu Mittal