Flagship prog cannot be implemented effectively till economy is sound: PM

Flagship prog cannot be implemented effectively till economy is sound: PM New Delhi: Congress Tuesday fully backed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by endorsing government's new economic reforms decisions even as there was demand in the party for steps to allay people's apprehensions on these measures.

The endorsement came at the first meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) after Trinamool Congress walked out of UPA with the Congress President Sonia Gandhi saying the reforms were "very necessary" and the government has begun the moves in that direction.

While no resolution was adopted at the meeting, the tone and tenor of Gandhi's speech made it clear that the party was fully behind the government on the reforms decisions that had led to a political storm and withdrawal of Trinamool Congress support to the government.

Gandhi saw no threat to the government saying it was "stable". Though she did not take any names, sources said Gandhi mentioned in her opening remarks that while one party (Trinamool Congress) has withdrawn support from UPA, two allies (SP and BSP) have reiterated their outside support to the government.

"Government is stable. There is no threat to the government," Dwivedi quoted Gandhi as saying in the meeting.

At the same time, there was a demand in the meeting for steps to allay apprehensions of people regarding the new economic reform measures initiated by the government at a time when elections are due in some states in the next few months.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the party's apex decision-making body that steps for the poor and the disadvantaged will continue in league with the Congress policies for development and welfare of the 'Aam Admi' (common man).

At the meeting, which began with the opening remarks of Gandhi, the government made a strong pitch for reforms with Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

He making it clear that unless the country's economic condition was sound the government would not be in a position to implement the flagship programmes of UPA targeted at the poor.

The Prime Minister said that effective steps for welfare of the poor cannot be taken unless the economy was strong.

Explaining the rationale behind the measures, Chidambaram said the government wanted that the country should not get affected due to the global economic crisis.

In her opening remarks, Gandhi said that reforms in the economy were "very necessary" and the government has begun the moves in that direction.

The Congress President also slammed BJP for playing "negative" politics, saying the main opposition party should play the role of a responsible opposition as was done by Congress when it was not in power.

Congress sources said that there a likelihood of the party organising a massive rally in Delhi in support of the measures initiated by the government.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was specially called to the meeting in which members said rallies should be held at district level to convince the people about the need to bring in reforms measures.

Ten days ago, the government had hiked the diesel price, put a cap on the supply of subsidised domestic LPG cylinders and decided to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail.

The CWC meeting came five days after a nation-wide bandh by the opposition in protest against the measures.

Replying to questions, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said that there was nothing like a dissenting note from any party leader on the economic reform measures.

"No such thing came up in the CWC meeting," Dwivedi said when asked whether there was any dissenting voice on the government measures like diesel hike and FDI.

There was no discussion on the issue of Telangana, he said.

There was speculation earlier that the party could firm up its view in the CWC meeting on the vexed issue of separate statehood.

Sources said that a senior party member felt that if possible, the number of subsidised LPG cylinders to each household should be increased.

The CWC was of the view that all precautions should be taken to remove the apprehensions of people on FDI.

Briefing the CWC, Chidambaram said the government has only three options to improve the economy of the country including raising production, increasing investment in the country and cutting on subsidies on which it is working.

After a number of CWC members expressed the view that there is a need to convince people about measures and counter the Opposition campaign against the government on the issue, it was decided that the week-long campaign carried out by Union Ministers and senior Congress leaders in different states will be extended further.

The Congress President also expressed sorrow over incidents of communal violence in few states and the violent ethnic clashes in Assam.

A view was also expressed in the CWC that opposition parties ruling in states were making political capital out of central schemes by claiming them as their own initiatives.

One of the leaders raised this in the context of Gujarat, saying posters of Chief Minister Narendra Modi are displayed relating to works carried out under central government schemes.

PTI