Special Correspondent

It is high time Congress-led coalition made meaningful efforts to rein in inflation: RJD

  • Concern over further widening of rich-poor divide
  • Government failed to deliver at ground level: BJP
  • NEW DELHI: The United Progressive Alliance Government on Monday found its allies joining hands with the Opposition in launching a virulent attack on its policies and overall handling of the economy, with the lead being taken by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in cautioning against a "death warrant" for the coalition regime if "meaningful efforts" were not made to rein in inflation.

    During the debate in the Lok Sabha on the Finance Bill, not only the Opposition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but also the Left parties joined the RJD and other coalition partners in pulling up the Government for its faulty policies. In particular, members, cutting across party lines, were irked over the further widening of the rich-poor divide which, in turn, was fanning the spread of the "red corridor" of naxalites.

    Vijay Krishna (RJD) noted that it was high time the Congress-led UPA coalition made meaningful efforts to rein in inflation as else, it would lead to signing of its own "death warrant." "People in villages do not understand what is nine per cent growth rate, but only talk about how prices of essential commodities like tomato, potato and others have gone up."

    SEZ issue

    Mr. Krishna cautioned that there would be "more Nandigrams" if the Government failed to ensure that the special economic zones (SEZs) were set up only on non-cultivable land. "It is becoming difficult even for people known as progressive to defend what has happened (in Nandigram)."

    Hike IT limit

    Initiating the debate earlier, Hiren Pathak (BJP) sought a hike in the exemption limit for personal income-tax slab from Rs 1.10 lakh to Rs 1.50 lakh for men. The limit should be increased to Rs. 2 lakh for women and Rs. 2.50 lakh for senior citizens.

    Mr. Pathak contended that over Rs 2,70,000 crore was being doled out as concessions to the rich people and the industry while noting that such sops should be curtailed. The Budget, he said, did not propose any step to check inflation and the prices of commodities such as pulses and wheat were on the rise.

    Sandeep Dikshit (Congress) added that if Finance Minister P. Chidambaram found it difficult to hike the standard deduction, then the limit could be linked to a price index as in the case of inflation. This, he said, would enable the common man to get an automatic benefit each year in proportion to the rise in prices. He suggested that while tax concessions to industry should be reduced, the senior citizens with no male heir and only daughters to support should be given tax-free benefit.

    Vijayendra Pal Singh (BJP) felt that Mr. Chidambaram missed an opportunity to take the country to the next phase of growth by presenting a "disappointing" Budget.