Special Correspondent

PUDUKOTTAI: General secretary of the Communist Party of India A.B. Bardhan has termed the Union budget 2008-09 an “election budget” and criticised Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for failing to reduce the interest rate on agricultural credit.

“If they can write off farmers’ debts now, why could they not do it two or three years ago? That would have at least saved the lives of a few farmers,” Mr. Bardhan said. The CPI leader is here to attend the party’s State conference.

With the government failing to reduce the interest rate on credit, farmers would fall into debt again over the next few years. If the government wants to provide relief to farmers from indebtedness, it should make available credit at low rates and ensure remunerative prices for agricultural produce, he said.