CWC meet today amid crisis

NEW DELHI, June 3:
Faced with a grim economic situation and political challenges, the Congress Working Committee meeting tomorrow is expected to come out with a strategy to bolster the party-led UPA Government.
To be presided over by party president Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and top Ministers and leaders, the meeting could see the passage of a resolution calling for effective steps to provide relief to common man facing rise in prices of essential commodities.
While on the economic situation, comparisons are being made with the 1991 crisis, the apex policy-making body of the Congress is meeting when fresh charges of corruption on coal block allocation has brought the Government and particularly the prime minister under the Opposition attack on the basis of a draft CAG report.
It also comes close on the heels of a campaign by Anna Hazare and Ramdev in the capital on the issue of corruption.
With the Presidential election scheduled to be held next month, senior party leaders say that the issue of UPA candidate will be decided by Gandhi in consultation with other parties and it is unlikely to come up at the CWC.
The hike in petrol price has created discomfiture among UPA allies and even in sections of Congress with Mamata Banerjee terming the recent hike as “steepest” and insisting on a “total withdrawal”.
It is the first formal meeting of the CWC after the party debacle in Uttar Pradesh as well its poor show in Punjab and loss of power in Goa.
The party is already on a sticky wicket in Andhra Pradesh and in Karnataka, where it is facing a sudden crisis following the resignation of the Leader of the Opposition Sidharamaiah.
Amid speculation of the possibility of a churning within the party after the recent Assembly election, the CWC may also take a call on the recommendations of the high-level committee chaired by Defence Minster A K Antony, which has submitted its report to Gandhi.
While no fixed agenda has been set for the CWC meeting, which will be an extended affair as PCC presidents and CLP leaders including party chief Ministers invited for the deliberations, sources said that political and economic issues will dominate the meeting.
A redeeming feature for the party is that a split is wide open in the BJP with party veteran L K Advani making a veiled attack on party chief Nitin Gadkari, who is set to get a second term.
The CWC meeting takes place within a fortnight of the BJP’s national executive in Mumbai in which the opposition party has given indications of its keenness to broaden the ambit of the NDA and has virtually extended an invitation to UPA ally Trinamool Congress to come back to the NDA fold.
The first two meetings of the CWC in March and May were only condolence meetings to pay homage to the veteran Congressman and former Union minister and governor Arjun Singh in March and in May to condole the untimely demise of the then Arunachal chief Minister Dorje Khandu in an air crash.
This will be the first meeting of the CWC after the party’s debacle in Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Goa, which could lead to a churning in the party.
The CWC meeting will be taking place just few days after the Opposition’s Bharat bandh on the issue of petrol price hike, which has evoked strong criticism even from UPA allies DMK and Mamata Banerjee’s party. (PTI)