With eye on polls, Cong seeks populist budget

  • Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 28, 2013 09:34 IST

In its wish-list for the last general budget ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls, the Congress party suggested to finance minister P Chidambaram to give it a pro-people touch so that the party reaps a rich electoral harvest.

Among the demands that dominated Chidambaram's interaction with Congress office bearers, was a second farm loan waiver on the lines of one announced in the 2008 general budget, doubling the existing tax slab and plugging leaks in the expenditure of funds to tackle Left wing extremism.

Majority of leaders, including Jagdish Tytler, complained of misuse and diversion of central funds by non-Congress chief ministers.

In his opening remarks, Chidambaram spoke about financial constraints given the global recession, particularly in the Eurozone and underlined the importance of fiscal consolidation.

He said the Indian economy - that had achieved a growth rate of 9.3% in 2008 - was hit adversely by global meltdown in September that year. However, he said protective measures and stimulus packages provided by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee helped in recovery.

"The finance minister told us about difficulties and how Indian economy was kept afloat despite tough global scenario. Out of 46 office bearers present, 32 spoke on issues related to farmers, weavers, education, health and income tax," general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

Party treasurer Motilal Vora demanded a mechanism to prevent opposition-ruled states from taking credit for social welfare schemes initiated by the UPA government.

CWC member Mohan Prakash said farmers were unhappy as they were getting fertilisers and seeds at high prices.

Praveen Davar demanded 1% cut in salaries of MPs, MLAs and government employees and 0.5% deduction in pension to fund social welfare schemes while Sudhakar Reddy demanded increase in tax exemption limit from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4 lakh.

 

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