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Congress plans to move ahead on economic reforms

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UNVEILING STRATEGY: Congress president Sonia Gandhi unveils in Hyderabad on Saturday a `pylon' in memory of Congress workers who dedicated their lives for the cause of national reconstruction in the post-Independence era. The occasion was the All-Ind ia Congress Committee plenary session. With her are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. Photo: Ramesh Babu
UNVEILING STRATEGY: Congress president Sonia Gandhi unveils in Hyderabad on Saturday a `pylon' in memory of Congress workers who dedicated their lives for the cause of national reconstruction in the post-Independence era. The occasion was the All-Ind ia Congress Committee plenary session. With her are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. Photo: Ramesh Babu

K.V. Prasad

It will be ensured that vulnerable sections are not affected, says the party

HYDERABAD: The Congress Working Committee on Saturday witnessed a sharp debate on the country's foreign policy, even as it did discuss the political and economic resolutions.

On the eve of the All-India Congress Committee's 82nd Plenary here, the CWC at its extended meeting discussed four resolutions - political, economic, international and agriculture and rural development.

The meeting was attended by all the CWC members, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, special invitees, permanent invitees and CLP/PCC chiefs. Prominent among those who were not present were Uttaranchal Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Veerbhadra Singh and Karnataka Chief Minister Dharam Singh

With the Congress firmly in the saddle heading the coalition arrangement at the Centre, the thrust of the political resolution was to determine a path to expand the party's base.

On the economic resolution, the party expressed its determination to push ahead with the reforms while ensuring that the vulnerable sections were not affected.

Briefing correspondents, AICC general secretary Ambika Soni said the resolutions cleared by the CWC along with suggestions for incorporation would be placed before the session.

She denied reports that said Mr. Tiwari had stayed away from the Saturday exercise as he was upset that he was not included in the CWC and that he was not consulted while preparing the draft resolutions.

Ms. Soni said Mr. Tiwari was one of the seniormost leaders and the party sought his guidance at all times. She said he had conveyed to the party leadership that he would not be able to make it to the meeting.

On the contents of the resolutions, the party merely said the overall thrust was on the Congress' commitment to promote secular politics.

Party sources said there was an exchange of ideas on the resolution on international affairs. Members from Kerala led by Ramesh Chennithala called for an independent foreign policy. The Indian vote on the Iran issue figured prominently.

With the Left parties stepping up pressure on the United Progressive Alliance Government, the anxiety of Congress could be understood. Dr. Singh responded to the members' concerns.

On the developments in Karnataka, Ms. Soni said senior leaders were on the job and Mr. Dharam Singh himself was confident that the coalition Government would survive the trust vote on January 27.

She said the basic objective of coalition was to strengthen secular forces and that even now the Congress MLAs in the State had not budged from their position.

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