Left, Oppn term budget as election budget, UPA welcome it

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) Even as the Opposition dubbed the budget presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram an ''Election budget'' for its announcement of a massive Rs 60, 000 crore loans waiver for farmers, UPA Ministers were all praise for it.

Union Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar said the UPA Government would present another budget before the General Elections.

''We will present another budget before the General elections,'' Mr Pawar told mediapersons after the presentation of the Budget in the Lok Sabha.

''After today's Budget, it will be clear to the people that we not only care for cricketers but also for farmers,''Mr Pawar said in a lighter vein.

Noting that 70 per cent of the farmers would benefit from the Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver announced in the budget, Mr Pawar said,''it is a massive relief for the farmers. I feel that it also paves the way for opening a new credit line for them.'' The Left leaders, however, did not sound too enthusiastic about the waiver.

Speaking to mediapersons Mr Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI said one time waiver of loans as announced in the budget would not help the farmers. Instead, the Government needed to bring down the rate of interest on loans to farmers, he said.

''After the relief in terms of loan waivers, the farmers will again be indebted due to high rate of interest on loans. We have been demanding that the bank lons be given to farmers at 4 per cent interest,''Mr Dasgupta said.

He said the budget would not lead to decline in prices nor would it lead to any inclusive growth.

''It is an election budget with a popular punch,''the CPI leader said.

Members of Samajwadi Party and the Bhartiya Janta Party, however, termed the budget as an "election budget" framed clearly with an eye on the vote bank.

Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda welcomed the loan waiver announced and said it will provide them some relief.

Describing the budget as most ''gender-friendly'' Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury said for the first time women's voice has been heard. ''The budget has given importance to women and women's needs. Fifty-four ministries have been put onto gender budgeting and in one sweep all programmes oriented for women will get an impetus.'' Chemical and Fertilisers Minister Ramvilas Paswan said this was the ''best ever budget''. ''There has never been such a budget in the past. The best part is it has looked after farmers' interests and those of the marginal sections.'' MORE UNI AR-MMG MSJ KN1459

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