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Sonia Gandhi calls up Prakash Karat

Wednesday 29 June 2005, by JOSHUA*Anita

Attempt to address concerns of Left parties over disinvestments

NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat on Tuesday in a bid to address the Left concerns over disinvestment, particularly in Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited.

The Left parties feel that the divestment is the "first serious violation’’ of the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) and have decided to suspend participation in coordination committee meetings with the United Progressive Alliance.

Ms. Gandhi, on vacation in Himachal Pradesh, called up Mr. Karat, AICC general secretary Ambika Soni told mediapersons.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) urged the Left parties to review their decision.

In a statement issued after senior NCP leaders met in the morning, the party said: "We must ensure that the UPA is strengthened. For this we should strictly adhere to the NCMP.’’

Briefing newspersons, NCP spokesman D.P. Tripathi said his party felt that it should stand with the Government on the issue while asking the UPA to strictly adhere to the NCMP.

Asked whether the party favoured the BHEL disinvestment decision, he said 10 per cent was only a small portion of the stake the Government held in the navaratna.

The NCP’s policy was that disinvestment in profit-making public sector undertakings should be avoided.

The NCP would try to discuss the issue with the Left parties to iron out the differences.

"Differences are bound to arise in such a big coalition. But they should be seen in a positive light ,’’ Mr. Tripathi said.

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