The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Priya, Buta to lecture CMs

Srinagar, May 29: Recently elevated as members of the political affairs committee in the Congress hierarchy, Buta Singh, Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and S.C. Jamir will be among the lead speakers at the two-day party chief ministers’ council session beginning here tomorrow.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has fielded former Union home minister Buta Singh as the lead speaker on issues concerning Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the interactive session with the chief ministers. Along with party general secretary Vayalar Ravi, Das Munshi, the party chief whip in the Lok Sabha, will address the chief ministers on labour reforms and employment.

The former Nagaland chief minister, who was a member of the council through the last four sessions, has been fielded to lecturer his former colleagues on health and education.

Sonia has also invited former Karnataka chief minister M. Veerappa Moily to address the chief ministers on aspects of administrative reforms. Moily currently heads a panel on administrative reforms in Karnataka.

Unlike at the fourth meeting of the council at Mount Abu in November last year, experts from the academic and professional fields would not hold court. It would be an all-politician event. Apart from Buta Singh, Das Munshi, Moily and Jamir, Sonia has fielded veterans like Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and Shivraj Patil to lecture the chief ministers.

Manmohan Singh has been asked to speak on the important issue of economic reforms, investment and disinvestment. His presentation may throw light on the party’s line on some of the more contentious disinvestment moves being considered by the Vajpayee government, though the Congress-ruled states form the specific context of the deliberations.

General secretary Ambika Soni said good governance and development would continue to be the core focus of the deliberations.

Specific aspects of the Congress focus such as agriculture, rural development, health, education, employment, economic reforms, SC and ST welfare and communal harmony would come up for discussion at specific sessions after an opening address by Sonia tomorrow afternoon. She is scheduled to arrive in the early afternoon.

Soni said all 15 Congress chief ministers would be in attendance. The chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Manipur and Himachal Pradesh have arrived.

This will be the first session for the Himachal and Meghalaya chief ministers as they assumed office after the February Assembly elections. For Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, too, this would be a first as he replaced Vilasrao Deshmukh in January.

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