CPM expects pro-farmer budget: Karat

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Hyderabad, Feb 10 (UNI) Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat today demanded that the UPA Government at the Centre come out with a people-friendly and pro-farmer budget.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the party had already given its suggestions to Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the general budget. There should be provisions to tackle agrarian crisis, price rise of essential commodities and unemployment.

The Marxist leader, who was here to participate in the 22nd party state convention, said, ''There shall be no fuel price hike.

The Government should review the tax structure on petroleum products. The excise duty on petroleum products should be slashed to decrease prices.'' He demanded that the Centre reintroduce long-term capital gain taxes on the stock market, revoked in 2004.

''Special allocations for health, education, employment and housing, should find place in it,'' he pointed out.

On BJP's reported crticism against the party's clamour for a third alternative, he said though the Left parties were supporting the UPA Government, they were keeping alive options of such an alternative.

Stating that the Left parties would hold discussions with 'secular' parties to forge an alliance to this end, he said the BJP was 'wary' of the move.

The Left would strive to keep the 'communal forces' away from power at the Centre and keep alive moves to forge a third political alternative, he pointed out.

About the demand for separate Telangana, he said the CPI(M) was 'totally' against the bifurcation of states formed on linguistic basis.

''The states formed on linguistic basis should not be 'disturbed' as it would create problems in the future. However, the party is not against smaller states,'' he emphasised.

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