Price situation will improve soon, PM tells CWC


New Delhi : The government is trying to check price rise and control inflation by boosting agricultural production, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting Friday.

Support TwoCircles

Briefing mediapersons about the CWC meeting, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said the prime minister shared the concern of members over rising prices of essential commodities.

Dwivedi said the prime minister told the meeting that the “situation is improving and will get better soon”.

At the meeting of CWC, the party’s highest decision-making organ, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh drew the attention of members to the success of the country in coping with the global economic crisis. He said steps taken by the government to protect the vulnerable sections of society had started showing results.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who raised the issues for the meeting, which lasted almost three hours, focused on price rise in her opening remarks.

Dwivedi said 18 leaders spoke on price rise though he refused to specify suggestions made by them.

The Congress general secretary denied that there was any suggestion for bifurcation of portfolios of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Sharad Pawar. No names were taken at the meeting, he said.

However, party sources said some members expressed resentment over Pawar’s remarks in the past about the possibility of rise in prices of some commodities. They said such remarks were unwarranted and went against the thrust of the government to check price rise.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his remarks, hoped that the prices situation will improve soon. Dwivedi said the CWC members did not make many suggestions on the budget to be presented by the finance minister later this month, but stressed that “it should be in the interest of the common man in keeping with the past budgets presented by the United Progressive Alliance government”.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who is party in-charge of Maharashtra, briefed the members about the developments in the state in the light of efforts of the Shiv Sena to rake up linguistic issues.

Antony said the tradition of the party has been to forge integration and there was emotional unity across the regions of the country. “Those trying to damage this (unity) need to be weakened. Every citizen should play a role,” he said.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram briefed the members about the government’s response to regional divisions in Andhra Pradesh on creation of a new state of Telangana. He said the terms of reference of the committee formed on the issue would be finalised shortly.

Oscar Fernandes, who heads the Congress central election authority, briefed the members about the schedule of organisational elections of the party.

The extended working committee meeting was attended by chief ministers of Congress-ruled states and permanent invitees to the CWC.

The chief ministers of Maharashtra and Puducherry did not come for the meeting due to the visit of party general secretary Rahul Gandhi to their states. The chief ministers briefed the meeting about steps taken by them to check hoarding and strengthening of the public distribution system.

Congress sources said some members asked the government to take steps to reduce the layers of middlemen that exist between the farmer and consumer. They said that produce was procured from farmers at a price far less than what is paid by the consumer and there was need to reduce the layers of middlemen.