Ahead of the Union Budget, Congress functionaries urged Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday evening to remember that with general elections just 15 months away, there was a grave need to rein in prices, especially of food articles and fuel, and avoid slashing subsidies.

At the customary closed door pre-budget meeting — that lasted two hours — party office-bearers gave their wish lists to Mr. Chidambaram, who kicked off the meeting giving an overview of the economy, listing both the difficulties and the expectations.

Apart from keeping an eye on the prices, office-bearers also said there was need to evolve a mechanism through which credit for the government’s flagship welfare schemes, such as MGNREGS, accrued to the Congress and not to opposition State governments. Some of those who spoke pointed out that the tribal people, for instance, who had been a key Congress supporters, had all but deserted the party — and there was need to pay attention to how to get them back. Others stressed that, in an election year, subsidies should not be cut.

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