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Cong allies give red signal to reforms

If the Congress thought that not having the Trinamool Congress in the United Progressive Alliance [UPA] was going to let it rush with economic reforms, then it was in for a rude shock on Thursday. At the coordination committee meet of the UPA, its staunch allies the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam [DMK] and the Nationalist Congress Party [NCP] filled the vacuum created by the criticism of Mamata Banerjee. Both these parties criticised the government for hiking the price of diesel and putting a cap on LPG cylinders.

However, these allies supported the government's move to introduce foreign direct investment [FDI] in retail and said that despite the Trinamool Congress' withdrawal, the process of reforms should continue.

Interestingly, while the government managed to get total support from its party members at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Wednesday, it could not garner the same level of support at the UPA meet. A senior leader of the NCP said, 'During the meet, the discussion focussed on how the government would function after the Trinamool Congress pulled out. We are all in favour of the reforms introduced by the Manmohan Singh government, but we don't agree with the other two issues – the price hike of diesel and cap on LPG cylinders.'

After the meet, the finance minister P Chidambaram said that the allies in the government discussed the decisions introduced by government in the past few days. 'There was general satisfaction with many of the steps taken by the government,' he said.
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