New Delhi: The UPA on Monday announced the constitution of a coordination committee under the chairpersonship of Sonia Gandhi to ensure cohesive functioning of the alliance, a demand that was placed by ally NCP during its recent stand-off with the Congress.
Leaders of all the constituent parties are part of the mechanism, though key allies, the DMK, the TMC and the NCP, are yet to name their representatives. According to Congress sources, the first meeting of the committee is scheduled on August 8.
While Sonia heads the committee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde are other members from the Congress.
This is for the first time in eight years of the UPA government that a coordination committee of alliance partners has been formed. During UPA-I, there was a coordination committee only between the Congress and the Left parties.
The formation of the coordination committee has come a fortnight after NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel threatened to pull out of the government.
Yielding to the NCP's demand, the Congress had on July 24 agreed to put in place such a coordination mechanism after Pawar and Patel met the Prime Minister and Sonia and discussed the week-long stand-off during which the two leaders had also offered to quit the Cabinet.
A statement issued by the two parties had later said, "This mechanism would ensure that the UPA allies meet at least once a month to discuss policy and other issues".
Among the allies, Union Minister Ajit Singh represents his party RLD on the panel, which also comprises E Ahmed of the IUML and Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference. Names of T R Baalu from the DMK and Praful Patel from the NCP are doing rounds.