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UPA reaches consensus, adopts CMP
May 27, 2004 01:04 IST
The United Progressive Alliance Wednesday night adopted a Common Minimum Programme, pledging to take the lead in introducing the Women's Reservation Bill and to repeal the controversial POTA. It said the issue of Telangana state would be considered at "an appropriate time".
The alliance unanimously elected Congress President Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of the UPA and committed itself to legislation that would reserve for women one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, who had earlier voiced reservations and sought a sub-quota for women from Other Backward Classes and some other groups, dropped his opposition later.
The alliance affirmed that profit-making public sector units would not be privatized, and resolved to generate more employment. It said the UPA would take steps to ensure at least 7-8 per cent of annual growth in the economy over a decade.
On the labour front, the UPA rejected the idea of uncontrolled hiring and firing of employees though it also recognised that the industry required some flexibility on this matter.
The CMP said all privatisation would be considered on "a transparent and consultative case-by-case basis". The UPA government proposed to retain in the public sector major profit-making PSUs, including the Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, GAIL (India), National Thermal Power Corporation, Steel Authority of India Limited and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited. But those companies would still be permitted to raise funds from the capital market, it said.
While every effort would be made to revive sick industries, companies making heavy losses would either be sold or closed after all workers got their legitimate dues and compensation, the CMP stated.
On the fiscal policy, the CMP said the government was committed to eliminating the Centre's revenue deficit by 2009 so as to release more resources for investment in the social and physical infrastructure.
In the social sector, it called for spending six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product on education and sought that immediate steps be taken to reverse the "trend of communalisation" of education set in the five years of NDA rule. It said it would also strive to ensure that all institutions of higher learning and professional education retain their autonomy.
The Left parties, which are supporting the coalition from the outside, are most likely to endorse the CMP, a charter of governance for the Congress-led coalition. The CMP is to be released Thursday.
The UPA committed itself to "maintaining a credible nuclear weapons programme" while still evolving "demonstrable and verifiable confidence-building measures with its nuclear neighbours".
The alliance declared that POTA has been "grossly misused" in the past two years, but stressed that it would continue to fight terrorism by strictly enforcing existing laws.
The CMP pledged to respect Article 370 of the Constitution, which accords special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The CMP stated that, in consultation with the state government, all groups would be included in the dialogue and the "healing touch" policy fully supported in the state.
The UPA is also to set up an Administrative Reforms Commission to prepare a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administration system.
All subsidies, it said, would be targeted at the poor and truly needy, like small and marginal farmers, farm labourers and urban poor.
The CMP is also expected to focus on supporting the peace talks in Sri Lanka in order to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of all linguistic and religious minorities within the territorial integrity and solidarity of the island nation.
Sources said UPA partners were "positive" about demands like the one made by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti for carving out a separate Telangana state from areas in Andhra Pradesh and Vidarbha district in Maharashtra. The Congress had appointed senior party leader and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to head a committee to study the matter. The plan does face strong opposition from the CPI-M, which is against the formation of new states from existing ones established on the basis of a common language.
The meeting, presided over by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, saw Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav, Lok Janshakti chief Ram Vilas Paswan, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury and A B Bardhan of the Communist Party of India all actively participating.
Others who attended included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Arjun Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Shivraj Patil, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad (all Congress), Harkishan Singh Surjeet (CPI-M), D Raja (CPI), Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party), Dayanidhi Maran (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), Mehbooba Mufti (People's Democratic Party), Vaiko (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), D Biswas (Forward Bloc), Abani Roy (Revolutionary Socialist Party), K Chandrasekhar Rao (TRS) and E Ahmed (Indian Union Muslim League).
More reports from Delhi
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