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Allies seek better coordination in UPA-II

New Delhi: At a time when the ruling coalition is passing through a turbulent phase, demands for a better coordination in the UPA-II are being raised by the allies of the Congress.

The NCP, whose chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has come under criticism from within a section of Congress, is among those seeking formation of a Coordination Committee.

Pawar hit back at his detractors yesterday saying that it was "not right" to blame his ministry for price rise and that it was a collective decision making process involving the Prime Minister as well as the Finance Minister.

After a recent remark by Rahul Gandhi on price rise issue which the NCP had taken exception to, Congress had taken more than 24 hours to clarify and that also after NCP General Secretary D P Tripathi trained his guns on the Congress leader.

Making a strong case for a UPA-II Coordination Committee, Tripathi claims that the coalition was a unique one in the contemporary world as it had no such mechanism for coordination.

"In contemporary democracies in any part of the world, UPA-II is the only coalition where there is neither formal nor informal coordination," says Tripathi.

Sudip Bandhopadhyay of the Trinamool Congress, whose party is the second largest constituent of the UPA-II, puts the situation differently.

"We are firmly behind UPA II. We are totally for it to have a better coordination," he says.

Bandhoyadhyay feels that there should be at least one meeting of the constituent parties of the UPA II every three months to exchange ideas and views as it would "strengthen" the coalition.

To drive home his point, he recalls that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the leader of the Lok Sabha, had held two meetings of the UPA II constituents on the issue of JPC into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

"I think without UPA-II Coordination Committee functioning regularly, there cannot be proper coordination in the alliance.

"In order to fight anti-coalition forces, such a committee is essential," Tripathi says.

However, Congress, which is leading the UPA-II, has a different view.

"Obviously, when there is no need for a Common Minimum Programme, there cannot be a need for a Coordination Committee to monitor a non-existent CMP," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi says.

Singhvi insists that coordination is done informally at "several levels on a 24X7 basis.

"Merely because 24×7 media also tends to blow up events within a day does not mean absence of coordination," he remarks.

Incidently, at the Congress plenary here last month, Sonia Gandhi had herself noted that complaints have been received about lack of coordination between the party and the government in many states. Gandhi had said, "In states, where we are in power, the AICC will set up a coordination committee to ensure regular and close interaction between the government and the party organisations."

She had said similar committees will also be established in Opposition-ruled states to bring about greater cohesion between the CLP and the party organisation.

Gandhi had, however, not dealt with the issue of coordination in the UPA-II.

A section in the Congress also favours greater interaction especially in the present times when the coalition is passing through turbulence.

A party leader, who declined to be identified, felt that it could be the strategy of the leadership not not to go for formal coordination mechanism for greater manouveribility.

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