President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said Friday his program of perestroika has so enlivened the Soviet people that they are demanding unprecedented efforts to cure the country's ills.
In a meeting with Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the 58-year-old Kremlin chief said the party's Central Committee concluded this week that the people support his program of reform but demand that it be implemented persistently and consistently."Perestroika here in the USSR has emerged now to such a scope, changes in all spheres of life have found such depth, that unprecedented exertion of force is demanded of the party," Gorbachev said in remarks carried by the Tass news agency.
The people's call for stronger measures, he said, was clearly voiced in recent parliamentary elections, in which at least three dozen senior party officials were defeated.
Meanwhile, the head of the Tass news agency said Friday in London, that Gorbachev will have at least one opponent when parliament elects the country's new president next month.
Leonid Kravchenko, director general of the official Soviet news agency, said a group of Moscow deputies plans to present an alternative candidate to Gorbachev. He did not identify the deputies and said he did not know who their candidate was.
At a meeting Tuesday of the policy-making Central Committee, Gorbachev said shortages of housing, consumer goods and food were growing despite perestroika, which he launched four years ago. He blamed the ruling Communist Party's top leadership and local officials.
Other speakers at the meeting made startling admissions of failure, saying the party had lost its leading role in society as well as the people's faith.
A senior Western diplomat said Friday that publication of the admissions in the party daily Pravda may have been a ploy by Gorbachev to force officials to back perestroika more solidly.
A total of 110 senior party officials resigned at the meeting in a housecleaning of old-timers that gives Gorbachev a freer hand to push for more radical reforms.