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CPI(M) leaders meet Chidambaram

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JULY 17 . Two top leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, today had an hour-long meeting with the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, and discussed budgetary issues, including the proposal to raise the foreign direct investment limits in telecom, insurance and civil aviation.

Mr. Karat told The Hindu later that apart from the FDI issue, the discussions centred on certain budgetary allocations, including the likely schemes for which a separate fund of Rs.10,000 crores has been placed at the disposal of the Planning Commission. Though the Commission is yet to work out the specific allocations, the additional funding is to be earmarked for the areas emphasised in the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance, particularly agriculture, rural development and employment generation.

The meeting is part of the overall efforts to resolve the differences that have cropped up between the Left parties and the Government. Mr. Yechury had gone public on Thursday protesting strongly against the FDI hike proposals. Asked whether he was hopeful of matters being resolved, Mr. Karat said that "discussions will continue." Did Mr. Chidambaram indicate his mind, he was asked. "We just had a discussion, not only on the FDI issue but on other matters of concern too," he said.

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