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PM, Sonia attend crucial Core Group meet

By Super

New Delhi, July 7: In the wake of yesterday's decision by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to put on hold all proposals for disinvestment of the PSUs, the Core Group of the Congress began a crucial meeting here this evening to consider the issue of disinvestment in the context of the coalition Government.

UPA Chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi was among the Core Committee members who attended the meeting held at the residence of the Prime Minister.

Other members, including Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Political Secretary to Mrs Gandhi, Ahmad Patel were also present.

Today's Core Committee meeting, held once in a week on Fridays, assumes significance in the context of the threat of the UPA constituent and DMK's supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to withdraw support from the UPA coaltion Government if the proposal for disinvestment of Neyveli Lignite Corporation is not dropped.

The Prime Minister was reportedly much upset and uneasy at the manner in which he had to put on hold all the proposals for disinvestment en bloc following a threat by the DMK on the specific case of proposed disinvestment of the NLC, a PSU based in Tamil Nadu.

He is understood to be unhappy at the way the disinvestment programme of the UPA Government is getting bogged down due to the persistent opposition by the Left parties supporting the Government from outside and a coalition partner DMK.

Disinvestment of PSUs to generate funds for the social sector constitutes a vital issue under the NCMP of the Congress-led UPA coaltion Government.

While the DMK and the Left parties had rejoiced at the Prime Minister's decision to put on hold all proposals for disinvestment, the BJP had termed the step as Prime Minister's surrender to the DMK blackmail.

There were rumours that the Prime Minister may quit following a decision not to go ahead with the disinvestment proposals. owever, the PMO sources described such rumours as ''baseless and imaginary.''


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