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Home > News > PTI

Congress to take stock at Nainital conclave

September 22, 2006 10:34 IST

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The cooler climes of Nainital are expected may not be of much comfort for some Union ministers and chief ministers when a Congress conclave gets underway on Saturday, to focus on the agrarian crisis, which saw a spate of farmers' suicides in at least four states.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will be presiding over the two-day meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by her side. The meet will also focus on internal security in the backdrop of recent terror attacks and the Naxalite problem.

The conclave, which is expected to be attended by 14 party chief ministers and some Union ministers, is being held when two of the Congress-ruled states - Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh - have been shaken by farmers' suicides in the last few years.

The deliberations could witness veiled attacks on Nationalist Congress Party supremo and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar over the issue of suicides as also on the wheat import row.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh could face criticism from a section in the party unhappy over the their performance as regards the lot of farmers as also on the law and order issue.

This is the second conclave after the Congress came to power at the Centre and is being held at a time when the Manmohan Singh government has almost completed half its term. Assembly elections in four states, including in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, are also round the corner.

The discussion on internal security is expected to generate interest as it comes close on the heels of the thaw in Indo-Pak ties and leaders of the two countries agreeing to establish a joint anti-terror mechanism.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has blasted the government, accusing it of going 'soft' on cross-border terrorism and 'turning a blind eye' to the nation's outrage over the Mumbai and Malegaon terror attacks.

The meet will start with remarks by Sonia, who has expressed serious concern over the increasing price line, plight of farmers and the growing tentacles of terrorism and naxalism. She had held a party chief ministers' meeting two months back on the issue of price rise.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil is already under attack both within Congress and outside over his ministry's 'failure' to deal with the twin threats posed by terrorism and naxalism amid speculation that he may be moved out of the key portfolio.

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