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Rahul should hold meeting to discuss govt policies: Antony

Congress meeting also sent out clear signals about Sonia Gandhi passing on the baton to her son.

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi |
December 28, 2013 1:21:53 am

On a day when the Prithviraj Chavan government in Maharashtra came in for flak from Congress leaders for rejecting the Adarsh Commission report at party chief ministers’ meeting,Defence Minister A K Antony suggested that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi should hold another meeting to discuss UPA government’s policies.

The suggestion came as senior leaders were discussing “public perception” in terms of price rise,including the complications posed to consumers due to Aadhaar-linked subsidy on LPG cylinders as also the fallout of the Manmohan Singh government’s decision to reduce subsidised cylinders from 12 to 6 — later increased to 9 — per household per year. At this point,said sources present at the meeting,Antony suggested,“We should also take up perception about the central government. But we should not mix it up. We should hold another meeting to discuss what the central government needs to do.”

The sources told The Indian Express later that a meeting to discuss the UPA government’s policies could be scheduled next month.

While Friday’s meeting centred around the issues of corruption and price rise,BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi came in for a short discussion when Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma pointed out that VAT in Gujarat was higher than that in many states but the BJP still managed to secure third consecutive term in the state. There was no further discussion on the subject after a leader pointed out that VAT was higher in Maharashtra than in Gujarat.

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The Congress meeting also sent out clear signals about Sonia Gandhi passing on the baton to her son as she stayed away,leaving him to preside over the meeting attended by all Congress CMs,except Mizoram’s,and Union ministers including Antony,P Chidambaram,Kapil Sibal,Sushil Kumar Shinde and Jairam Ramesh.

As discussions veered around public perception,Rahul said the perception in Rajasthan was that the government was doing good work but the party was not involved in conveying the message to the people. “We must take party workers along,” he said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was learnt to have made a strong pitch for the party to correct public perception about price rise,saying,“I always tell them ‘look at the increase in your salaries’. You buy (mineral) water bottles….” Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda suggested the idea of opening “apna mandis” for farmers to keep middlemen out.

Listing the decisions taken at the meeting,AICC general secretary Ajay Maken said apart from enacting Lokayukta legislation in the next two months,all Congress-ruled states will,by January 15,delist fruits and vegetables from APMC Act to ensure that farmers have a choice where to sell their produce and consumers get lower prices.

All these states will invoke Essential Commodities Act 1955 to deal sternly with hoarding,black-marketing and profiteering. They will immediately implement the reforms of the public distribution system that are stipulated in the National Food Security Act to eliminate leakages and ensure that foodgrain reach the intended beneficiaries.

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