Govt to face Opposition's flak on price rise in Budget Session

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New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) The Opposition is all set to mount a blistering attack on the government over the unbridled rise in prices of essential commodities during the Budget Session of Parliament, which gets underway tomorrow with President Pratibha Patil's maiden address to the joint sitting of the two Houses.

Besides the price rise, other issues with which the Opposition has armed itself are the unabated suicides by farmers across the country, internal security scenario, terrorism, rise in naxal activities, influx from Bangladesh changing demography in the north-eastern states, Indo-US nuclear deal, women reservation and the recent attack on north-Indians in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

Both the NDA constituents and the Left Parties confirmed yesterday that they were going to put the Manmohan Singh Government in the dock on its 'failure' to check inflation, badly hitting the common man, besides ignoring the farmers' plight.

BJP deputy leader in Lok Sabha Vijay Kumar Malhotra said his party had given 80 to 90 notices for debates, some of them under rule 193 and 184, on issues of people's concern and national interest.

"We will pin the government down on its failure to check price rise, improve internal security scenario, check terrorism and tackle naxalities menace," Mr Malhotra said.

Besides, the BJP will be opposing tooth and nail any further extension of President's rule in Karnataka and demand that election in the state be held before May to instal a popular government there. It would also oppose the Indo-US Nuclear Deal on the ground that it was not in the interest of the country.

The recent attacks on north Indians in Mumbai, government's failure to arrest Bofors pay-offs main accused Ottavio Quattrocchi, illegal Bangladeshi migrants, atrocities on women, and the Women Reservation Bill providing for 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies were other issues which would be raised by the party, he said.

The Left parties, although supporting the UPA government from outside, have also decided to take the government to task on issues like price rise, agrarian crisis, US pressure on the nuclear deal, move to merge banks and dilute the role of PSUs.

Talking to UNI, top leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI said despite the Prime Minister's assurance, nothing had been done so far on the price front, greatly affecting the household budget of the middle and lower middle class and the poor sections of society.

CPI(M) leaders M K Pandhe and Rup Chand Pal demanded more allocation in the General Budget to give relief to farmers by way of setting up a Debt Relief Commission, withdrawing duties on agricultural inputs and waiving off loans of farmers and credit facilities to them at a simple interest rate of 4 per cent.

The Left Parties would also press for consideration of the Sengupta Report on the employment situation in the unorganised sector and provision of social security to those employed in it.

Besides it would oppose the government's move to merge, disinvest and privatise nationalised banks.

Senior CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said "we will also draw attention to how the employment opportunties in both the organised and unorganised sectors have declined during the last 15 years since the adoption of new economic policies in the country." Mr Pandhe said the Left parties would press for reintroduction of the long-term capital gains tax, imposition of tax on share market tarnsaction and tax concessions for the small scale industries.

President Patil, in her maiden speech to the joint sitting, will review the government's performance and the general situation in the country. She is also expected to articulate the government's future programmes and policies.

With assembly elections in as many as ten states this year ahead of the Lok Sabha polls due next year, the government is expected to provide some sops to the common man and incentives to industrialists in the budget to boost the economy further.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad will be presenting the Railway Budget on February 26, while Finance Minister P. Chidambaram will present the General Budget on February 29. The Economic Survey will be laid in Parliament on February 28.

UNI KAS AT SP AS1122

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