Congress panel holds its first meet, expresses concern over economy

The newly formed Congress panel on economic affairs met on Saturday to discuss the state of the country’s economy and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on it, people aware of the development said.

The panel on economic affairs, headed by former PM Manmohan Singh, held its introductory meeting and discussed the overall state of the economy, expressing concern that for the first time it has gone into a recession. The other members of the committee are former Union ministers P Chidambaram, Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh, who is also its convener, and former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh.

A Congress functionary said the leaders during the meeting discussed the strategy to be adopted by the party in putting pressure on the government to revive the economy.

Congress leaders asserted that the government should initiate steps to revive the economy with fair and remunerative prices to farmers for their produce; implementation of the NYAY scheme to put money in the hands of the poor; and creation of jobs as the unemployment rate stood at 6.4%, apart from giving more money to the states. The Nyay scheme, a kind of universal basic income programme, was part of the Congress’ manifesto in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

Apart from this panel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday also formed committees on foreign affairs and national security.

In the panel of foreign affairs, Singh will be assisted by former Union ministers Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Salman Khurshid besides Saptagiri Sanka Ulaka, a Lok Sabha member from Koraput in Odisha. Khurshid has been named its convener. Manmohan Singh will also head the panel on national security. Its members are Azad, former Union minister M Veerappa Moily, Vincent H Pala, a Lok Sabha member, and V Vaithilingam, a former chief minister of Puducherry who represents Puducherry in the 17th Lok Sabha. Pala is its convener.

Gandhi also accommodated Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Shashi Tharoor, who were among the 23 signatories of a letter to the party president in August this year seeking an organisational overhaul, in the panels.

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