KARNATAKA

Centre pursuing pro-rich policies, says Gowda

SEDAM (Gulbarga Dt.) MARCH 30. The former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader, H.D. Deve Gowda, today criticised the economic policy of the Centre and termed it "anti-poor" and "anti-farmer".

Addressing a convention of the party in which some workers of the Congress and the BJP joined the Janata Dal (S), Mr. Gowda said the Union Budget exposed the BJP's lack of concern for farmers and the poor.

He said the Centre had proposed to provide relief to the rich by reducing the customs duty on liquor and luxury items. Reliefs provided to farmers and poorer sections of society were being withdrawn for extending them to the rich.

The Centre had reduced the customs duty on liquor and proposed to impose eight per cent excise duty on edible oil. It had also proposed to reduce the duty on imported gold and diamond while slashing the subsidy on fertilizers.

Questioning the priorities of the Centre, Mr. Gowda said that while planning to lay 10,000 km. of concrete roads for super highways, it was neglecting roads in rural areas.

The Centre had increased prices of petroleum products.

He alleged that the Centre had dismantled the Public Distribution System (PDS) by increasing prices of essential commodities.

All policies pursued by the Centre aimed at the welfare of people in urban areas. While housing loans were easily available for people in urban areas, they were not being extended to the rural sector.

Criticising the BJP and the Sangh Parivar for pursuing a "militant Hindutva" policy, Mr. Gowda declared that the country belonged to all communities, and nobody could convert it into a "Hindu Rashtra".

Referring to the announcement by the Congress that it was following a "soft Hindutva line", Mr. Gowda wondered what that party meant by "soft Hindutva line".

He declared that his party would not have alliance with those who pursued "Hindutva" which would jeopardise the unity of the country.

On the new slogan of the AICC President, Sonia Gandhi, "Congress ke haath garibon ka saath", Mr. Gowda asked if she knew the problems faced by farmers.

It was the Congress which introduced economic reforms and wanted to withdraw subsidies given to the agriculture sector.

He said the JD(S) was committed to secularism and protecting the interests of the poor and deprived sections of society.

It was the Janata Dal Government in the State which reserved the posts of President and Vice-President in local and urban bodies for the deprived sections.

The President of the State unit of the Janata Dal (S) and former Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, the former Union Civil Aviation Minister, C.M. Ibrahim, the former ministers, S.K. Kanta, Ekanthaiah, and Lakshmisagar, the former Deputy Speaker, Chandrashekhar Reddy Madana, and the former Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council, B.R. Patil spoke.

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