The United Progressive Alliance on Monday announced the constitution of a coordination committee under the chairpersonship of Sonia Gandhi to ensure cohesive functioning of the alliance, a demand that was placed by ally NCP during its recent stand-off with Congress.
Leaders of all the constituent parties are part of this mechanism, though key allies Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam, Trinamool Congress and Nationalist Congress Party are yet to name their representatives. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled on August 8, Congress sources said.
While Gandhi heads the committee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde are the other members from Congress.
This is for the first time in eight years of the UPA government that a coordination committee of alliance partners has been formed. During UPA-I, there was only a coordination committee between Congress and Left parties.
The formation of the coordination committee has come a fortnight after NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel threatened to pull out of the government.
Yielding to NCP's demand, Congress had on July 24 agreed to put in place such a coordination mechanism after Pawar and Patel met the Prime Minister and Gandhi and discussed the week-long stand-off during which the two leaders had also offered to quit the Cabinet.
A statement issued by the two parties had later said, "This mechanism would ensure that the UPA allies meet at least once a month to discuss policy and other issues".
Among the allies Union Minister Ajit Singh represents his party RLD on the panel which also comprises E Ahmed of the IUML and Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference. Names of T R Baalu from DMK and Praful Patel from NCP are doing the rounds.