Cong for big brother role

Cong for big brother role

Plays down Mamatas demand for new CMP; swearing-in on Friday

Cong for big brother role

Backed by three-fourth of the total Lok Sabha seats, the Congress is reluctant to institutionalise a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for the new coalition government it is set to head.

The UPA will begin a new innings in power from Friday following a formal invitation by President Pratibha Patil to Manmohan Singh who will be the prime minister of the Congress-led government for a second consecutive term.

Though the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) — the second largest party in the new UPA — did raise the demand for a CMP when all the coalition partners met the first time on Wednesday, the Congress is understood to have remained non-committal.

Banerjee told journalists after the UPA meet that she had suggested that the coalition should have a CMP to set a common agenda for governance. But Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi later pointed out that the UPA had been in power since 2004 and it already had a CMP.

SEZ policy

She was in favour of a review of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy so that there was a balance between agriculture and industry.

Dwivedi’s spin on the issue was that the UPA constituents were in favour of constituting a small committee to study the issues raised by its allies and promises they had made in their respective manifestos ahead of the elections.

“This is not the first time the UPA is forming a government at the Centre. It already has a CMP,” Dwivedi said, quickly adding: “But we are not saying that the CMP could not be reviewed or some new issues and programmes could not be incorporated in that.”

He declined to comment on Banerjee’s demand for a new CMP, but pointed out that all the allies had offered support to the next government without any pre-condition.

Sources said the TMC chief’s suggestion was endorsed by some other UPA leaders.
Manmohan Singh had to intervene and request senior leaders and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to hold informal consultations with the UPA partners to explore issues and programmes they wanted to incorporate in the agenda for governance.

The Congress’s non-commit ment stems from its experience between 2004 and 2009. During the life of the first UPA government, the Congress and other alliance parties held consultations with the Left, which had supported the government, before drafting the CMP.

But the CMP, especially the economic reforms objectives, became a bone of contention between the Congress and the Left which withdrew support to the UPA in July 2008 following its stand over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The Congress’s reluctance to put in place a CMP this time stems from apprehensions of trouble within the UPA. Senior Congress leaders were of the view that the new government must pursue reforms in certain segments to draw investment and ensure flow of fund to boost economic growth. The party has already stated that reviving the recession-hit economy and achieving 6-6.5 per cent growth by the end of this year and 7 per cent in 2010 would be among the government’s priority targets.

After the Leftists withdrew support, Singh’s government had little time left to pursue the reforms agenda, though it did introduce a Bill to increase the FDI cap in the insurance sector along with the Pension Reforms Bill.  The new government would have to reintroduce the Pension Reforms Bill which had earlier lapsed in the Lok Sabha. The Insurance Reforms Bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
   On Tuesday, the President appointed Singh Prime Minister after UPA chairperson Sonia Gndhi and he called on her to stake claim to form the government. The swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan is likely to take place at 5 pm on May 22.    Interestingly, the President did not ask Singh, who was armed with letters of support of 322 MPs—including those of the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Janata Dal (S)—to prove this strength in the Lok Sabha.
A presidential communiqué said: “The President, having satisfied herself, on the basis of the various letters of support received, that the Congress-led UPA alliance, which is also the largest pre-election alliance, is in a position to command majority support of the newly constituted 15th Lok Sabha and to form a stable government, appointed Dr. Manmohan Singh  the Prime Minister and requested him to indicate the members of the new Council of Ministers”. Speaking to journalists on Rashtrapati Bhavan’s forecourt after meeting the President, Singh said: “We have 274 members who are part of the Congress and pre-poll alliance, which also includes four Independents. We have the support of 48 MPs from the SP, BSP, RJD. This totals 322.”

The meeting with the President was followed by discussions involving the UPA’s pre-poll allies. The meeting, which elected Sonia UPA chairperson, deliberated upon the new government agenda for governance. the next government was discussed.

The meeting was attended by DMK chief M Karunanidhi, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, TMM’s  Shibu Soren, S Owaisi of MIM, K M Mani of Kerala Congress, E Ahamed of Muslim League, Bwiswamuthiary of Bodoland People’s Front, and Tirumavalavan of VCK of Tamil Nadu.

  It was also attended by Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel, A K Antony and P Chidambaram besides Manmohan Singh, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
DH News Service

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