Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 17
After veteran Kapil Sibal questioned the Congress publicly for not acting enough to stem the electoral rot, the party witnessed fresh dissent today from another former minister on the issue of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Former Commerce Minister Anand Sharma contradicted the Congress line on the RCEP today, hours before a top panel constituted to advise party president Sonia Gandhi met this evening to discuss current issues and Bihar election debacle.
“India’s decision of not joining the RCEP is unfortunate and ill advised. It is in India’s strategic and economic interests to be a part of the process of Asia-Pacific integration. The withdrawal has negated years of persuasive negotiations for India to be accepted as part of RCEP. We could have negotiated safeguards to protect our interests. Keeping out of the RCEP is a backward leap,” Sharma said even when the Congress was the first party to express concerns last year over India joining the trade block with Rahul Gandhi even tweeting against the move.
Nothing was known officially of the discussions at the meeting of the Congress panel which Sonia had earlier formed to advise her, but it is learnt that the panel discussed the current political situation, including Bihar poll results, upcoming district development council elections in J&K and rumblings in the party.
Sonia was not part of the meeting nor was Ahmed Patel, who is ill. Among those who attended the meeting were AK Antony, Randeep Surjewala and Mukul Wasnik.