UPA Coordination panel meets sans Mamata
New Delhi: A fortnight after NCP chief Sharad Pawar raised the issue of a coordination mechanism in the UPA, the top brass of the ruling alliance tonight initiated an exercise to discuss threadbare major issues.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who heads the second largest constituent in UPA, skipped the first meeting of the alliance's Coordination Committee headed by Sonia Gandhi.
Finance Minister P Chidambram told reporters after the nearly 2-hour meeting that the Trinamool Congress chief would be indicating a suitable date later when she can attend future meetings of the Committee.
The format of the Coordination Committee is such that it has representations of only heads of non-Congress constituents in UPA and the panel is scheduled to meet on last Friday of every month and more frequently if necessary.
Reports from Kolkata said Mamata Banerjee could not attend today's meeting because ofa pre-scheduled meeting in Junglemahal and her absence should not be taken as a boycot.
TMC Chief Whip in Rajya Sabha Derek O'brien said that hopefully she would attend next meeting. Chidamabaram said "it was a general discussion and no
specific issue was discussed."
He said while Pawar flagged the issue of drought, somebody raised how to tackle the fuel subsidy.
The problems being faced by the aviation sector as well as the investment climate in the country also came up for discussion in the meeting.
This is for the first time that a UPA Coordination Committee was constituted since Congress came to power at the Centre in 2004 via the coalition route. The UPA-1 had a Coordination Committee but it was restricted only to the Congress and Left parties.
In today's meeting, T R Baalu of DMK attended as the party chief M Karunanidhi was unable to come and hence deputed his party leader to represent him.
Chidamabram said the DMK chief may be attending the next meeting of the Committee.