UPA discusses ministerial berths, appoints Sonia chairperson (Second Lead)

May 20th, 2009 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Two days before a new government is sworn in, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partners Wednesday discussed the knotty issue of who will get which ministerial berth and also re-elected Congress president Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of the coalition.
A UPA meeting in Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s 10 Janpath residence was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the galaxy of leaders of the grouping, which has bagged 263 seats in the parliamentary elections.

According to a leader who attended the meeting, DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi talked of a multi-billion rupee package for the rehabilitation of Sri Lanka’s Tamil civilians affected by the war on the Tamil Tigers.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has demanded a special industrial package for Maharashtra, the source said.

Suggestions for implementation of the recommendations of Sachar Committee report on minorities were put up by Asaduddin Owaisi, an All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP from Andhra Pradesh, and E. Ahamed, of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) from Kerala.

The meeting also chose Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of the UPA. Her name was proposed by DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and seconded by Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee.

Among those who attended the UPA meeting from the Congress were Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, A.K. Antony and general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

The other members of the Congress-led grouping were there in full strength too - present besides Karunanidhi were his grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran, NCP’s Praful Patel and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah. Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, who switched over to the UPA after the elections, also attended.

Abdullah, president of the National Conference, congratulated Rahul Gandhi for the victory of the UPA.

“We discussed about state and national matters. I said there should be a common minimum agenda and committees should be formed so that the concerns of all parties are addressed. This will help in good governance,” Trinamool’s Mamata Banerjee said. With 19 seats, the party is the UPA’s largest ally.

In Banerjee’s view, something should be done about minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. “I talked about special economic zones (SEZ), agriculture policies and the need for a relationship between industrial and agriculture,” said Banerjee.

She also discussed issues of women’s reservation, minority development, unemployment and “atrocities” in West Bengal.

Banerjee also talked of violence done by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) during the polls.

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