Riding into future with populism
The farmer, the aam aadmi and the poor remained high on Congress agenda as the party demanded that the government evolve a “legislative and administrative support” for the implementation of the policy on “affirmative action for weaker sections in the private sector”. It also sought to reassure the Left and other allies that their concerns on economic issues would be addressed by the UPA government.
In the draft resolution on economic affairs, the party patted the government for “reversing the policy of indiscriminate and non-transparent privatization of the public sector put in place by the previous BJP-led NDA government”. It said under no circumstances, the Navaratna companies would be privatised. Instead, they would be strengthened in every way so that they become globally competitive. The party also called upon the government to put a ceiling on taxes/cess on petroleum products to thwart price hike. “The Congress calls upon the govt to put a cap on the unreasonable increase in sales tax/VAT/cess to control escalations of petroleum products,” the draft resolution on economic affairs said.
The draft also noted that “the Congress is in agreement with the view that disinvestments in other cases (read non-navaratna units) should be undertaken selectively, on a case-by-case basis, so as to raise resources for the National Investment Fund that has been set up by the government to augment resources for social sector programmes.” The party urged the UPA government to ensure that funds from the PSUs should not be used for meeting revenue expenditure and viable units should be given a fresh lease of life.
Later, finance minister P. Chidamabaram refuted the charge that Left parties were impeding the country's growth by opposing several reforms. Meanwhile, it asked Pakistan to dismantle “infrastructure of terrorism” on its territory to pave the way for friendly ties while hoping that Iran’s nuclear issue would find a mutually acceptable solution. “India's difficult but principled stand on the issue of nuclear proliferation and the vote on Iran in IAEA caused a degree of disquiet among some sections in both countries. The matter came up for vote despite efforts by India to avoid that eventuality,” the resolution of external affairs said. The party opposed military intervention in Iraq.