Congress president Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Wednesday to discuss drought that has affected 177 districts in the country.

All the Congress Chief Ministers have been invited for the meeting; the second one to be convened after the party was voted back to power at the Centre three months ago.

According to the Congress general secretary in-charge of organisational matters, Janardan Dwivedi, all permanent invitees, regular members and party Chief Ministers have been invited. Though the meeting has been called to discuss drought, senior Congress leaders did not rule out the possibility of the issue of spiralling prices of essential commodities being taken up for discussion.

The meeting has been convened primarily to send across the message that the party was mounting pressure on the government to act to contain the harsh impact of drought.

The central leadership is likely to tell the Chief Ministers to keep a check on the price line. Last month, while addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party, Ms. Gandhi said that though India had adequate buffer stocks of food grains, “we need to keep the strictest possible vigil on the prices of essential commodities; this is where the States must play their part and fulfil their responsibilities as well.”

Price rise

There is considerable disquiet within the party over the fact that the States ruled by it too were not able to keep a check on prices. Leaders are of the view that the party Chief Ministers should take the lead and crack the whip on black-marketers to check hoarding. Also, they will be asked to introduce other measures to cushion the hike in prices of essential commodities. Once the Congress acts, the view is that the Opposition-ruled States would be compelled to fall in line.

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