Congress says UPA committed to economic reforms

      The Congress party on Monday took potshots at West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee over her move to stage a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar here against the Centre's new reforms, saying the UPA Government is determined and has made a commitment to push economic reforms for the betterment of the country.

Congress leader Jagdambika Pal cited the example of China where FDI in retail is already into existence, and said that India will lag behind in comparison to other countries if new economic reforms are not initiated. "The Congress-led UPA is determined and has made a commitment to push economic reforms. Even though Mamata is no more our ally, we do not care because we have made our commitment. If we will not go for economic reforms, we will lag behind in comparison to other countries," said Pal.

"And if she (Mamata) is opposing FDI in retail, then I think she is supporting to middlemen because if FDI in retail will come to India foreign investment will also come in a huge amount. And only when investment will come, then only you can generate some employment. When employment will be generated, then only your growth rate will come up," he added, while emphasizing the fact that FDI in multi-brand retail will usher in employment opportunities. Mamata Banerjee, who opens her innings as an official opposition party with a protest rally against the government's new reforms, will address the gathering at the Jantar Mantar here and eventually chalk out the future course of action. "Mamata Banerjee will come and address the rally between 1 and 2 p.m. and she will announce our future plan of action and protest against the anti-people policies of the present UPA Government at the Centre," said TMC leader Saugata Roy.

"The Trinamool Congress MPs both Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will gather at the Jantar Mantar for dharna and will be joined by the Trinamool Congress workers from states around Delhi ," he added. A miffed Trinamool Congress chief had earlier on Sunday said that the demonstration was part of her party's resolve to show solidarity with the 'aam aadmi' or the common man who has been hurt by the new economic reforms announced by the Centre. Asserting that the fight for the cause of common people continues with the help of 'Maa, Mati, Manush' throughout the country, Banerjee said: "I am thankful to all of you for supporting our persistent protest against the unethical decisions on price hike of diesel, restriction of LPG cylinders, increase in fertilizer prices and permission of FDI in retail, which are not in the interest of the common people."

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, had earlier on Saturday defended the recent economic reforms announced by the Centre, saying the decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail has nothing to do with the U.S. "We are not to be dictated by others," Dr. Singh told mediapersons after the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Justice Altamas Kabir. The Prime Minister said the reforms would go on. "We have no bitterness with allies who are opposed to economic reforms," said Dr. Singh.

Moreover, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had earlier last Thursday said that the recent steps taken by the Congress-led UPA Government such as the diesel price hike might burden the people, but added that the reforms were necessary. Speaking after the UPA coordination committee meeting, Chidambaram said that the major UPA allies who attended today's meet fully backed the key policy decisions taken by the Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government is facing intense pressure from the opposition parties over the slew of reforms announced earlier this month.

The TMC, the biggest partner of the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, had pulled out over big-ticket economic reforms, reducing coalition to a minority government and bringing even more instability to an already volatile political landscape. The government took some decisions earlier, including the hike in diesel price, cap the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to six per household and approving 51 percent Foreign Direct Investment or FDI in multi-brand retail. Trinamool Congress, which has 19 members in the Lok Sabha, withdrew support to the Congress-led UPA Government and pulled out its six ministers from the government on September 21 after being disappointed with the announcement government's new reforms.

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