We are working against political calendar, PM tells Ministers

Determined not to crack under the onslaught of civil society activists and the charges of corruption flowing thick and fast, the United Progressive Alliance government and the Congress have donned the combat gear.

Ahead of a public rally, scheduled for November 4 on the Ramlila Grounds here, intended to be a show of strength, when the party will take on the Opposition and its other detractors frontally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rallied his troops, addressing the entire Union Council of Ministers — freshly reshuffled — at a special meeting here on Thursday.

This would be followed by a stocktaking and strategy exercise — labelled as a “samvad baithak” — on November 9, when the senior-most leaders in the party and the government gather at Surajkund, on the outskirts of the national capital, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

Sources in the party said that by then, it was likely that the rejig in the organisation would be over. Those attending the meeting would be all Congress Working Committee members as well as those looking after the party affairs in the States, all Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State holding independent charge. The discussions would centre on the current political situation, the economic challenges and the shortcomings in the implementation of the government’s flagship programmes.

The Prime Minister’s message at Thursday’s meeting was that it was time for every one to work unitedly to improve governance and work towards bringing in investment to boost growth so that there would be money for infrastructure and social sector schemes. The government was “working against the political calendar” — a reference to the fact that the general election is less than two years away — but that should not make his colleagues “lose sight of the fact” that they were “also involved in the task of nation-building.” In short, they should lose neither heart nor nerve.