Special Correspondent

Common man's Budget: Gehlot

JAIPUR: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Wednesday termed certain aspects of the Union Budget an attack on "fiscal federalism". She lamented "feeble and unimaginative measures" taken for the farm sector and a "virtual absence of initiative" in the infrastructure sector.

On the other hand, Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot hailed the proposals as a "Common man's Budget".

The Budget provisions would not only curb the inflationary tendencies in the country but also provide relief to farmers, women, Scheduled Castes, Adivasis, minorities and the youth, he said. "The Finance Minister has also safeguarded the financial interests of the States," Mr. Gehlot said in a statement.

The leaders of the Left parties, however, expressed "disappointment" over the Budget. "The Budget is directionless and has come as a disappointment. There is nothing in it to salvage the farm sector and curb inflation," said CPI (M) State secretary Vasudev.

"The measures announced for the agriculture sector are not enough. The proposals also were indicative of the Government's continuing with the active foreign direct investment policy," said CPI State secretary Dushyant Ojha.

Ms. Raje said the States' revenues were attacked by Mr. Chidambaram by increasing the scope of ATF as a declared good under CST Act. Only last year a loss of Rs.100 crores was caused to the States by declaring LPG a declared good, she pointed out. The States were to share the revenue loss in raising the threshold level of income tax by Rs.10,000 but they were not to get a share of the 1 per cent additional cess for education, she noted.

"Whatever relief is there to the individual, it is at the expense of the States. We strongly oppose and condemn raising Central taxes in this non-sharable manner," Ms. Raje said.

Ms. Raje said the UPA Government did not even spare the IT sector, the one success story of the country.