The Congress core group — that includes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi — met on Friday in the backdrop of the Opposition onslaught and the party’s reported unease over the Indo-Pak joint statement delinking terror from the composite dialogue and the reference to Balochistan in the document.
The meeting was still on till late at night.
Though there is no confirmation, there is speculation that it discussed the issue that would also be debated in Parliament on July 29.
While Sonia’s address to her MPs at the Congress parliamentary party meeting on July 30 will be closely scrutinised, the prime minister — who reportedly explained the joint statement to her after his return from Sharm-el-Shaikh — is expected to intervene during the parliamentary debate
Party MPs will be given a briefing to counter the Opposition during the parliamentary debate. And the talking points are likely to include that the government will not proceed with a dialogue unless Pakistan acts against terror.
The party’s unease on the issue came through with its leaders refusing to comment on it. But the government’s attempt at course correction was reflected in the statements of Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon who said the document was not legally binding.
Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: “The Congress has already spoken more than once on the subject. Nothing more needs to be added. The matter lies in the government’s domain.’’
AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, however, maintained: “There is nothing in the joint statement that compromises India’s position.’’
Ministers in government are at pains to underline that the prime minister must have kept the totality of the situation in mind while proceeding with the joint statement.