Congress to step back from govt, give it freer hand on crucial issues

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 24 2009, 04:44am hrs
In contrast to the pulls and pressures from allies as also from within the Congress on issues ranging from economic policies to the nuclear deal in its first tenure, the UPA Government looks set to have a freer hand this time.

Accordingly, even as the Opposition raises a storm over the recent Indo-Pak joint statement and Mondays End-User Verification Agreement with the US, the Congress top brass is inclined not to be seen to intervene. And that is likely to be its stand on all complex issues concerning foreign and economic policies, it is learnt.

The ruling party has refrained from delving into the merits or demerits of the Indo-Pak statement that de-linked terror from the composite dialogue process. The party maintains that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has spoken twice on this issue and there is no need to add anything more.

The Congress took the same line on Wednesday. Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan said The Prime Minister has spoken on the issue. I have nothing more to add. She also rejected reports of unease in the party. On Tuesday, AICC spokesman Manish Tewari had said: These are issues which, at times, have technical overtones and the government is best-equipped to answer that. These are issues on which a political party does not have to answer.

The strategy apparently also suits the Congress as it insulates it from an adverse fallout, if any, of a government policy.

On his part, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will once again clarify his governments stand on these issues in Parliament next week. The clarification could come in the form of an intervention during the discussion on external affairs on July 29, sources said.

The decision that Singh should explain the position unambiguously and bring the matter to an end, was understood to have been made at a meeting headed by Sonia Gandhi in Parliament this morning.

On EUMA, senior ministers have already come out in defence of the governments stand. There is nothing new in the agreement finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters today. Earlier it was platform specific, weapon specific and system specific. Now it is a generic formula, he said.