'Budget populism does not win elections'

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Chennai, Mar 4: Accusing Finance Minister P Chidambaram of presenting the union Budget 2008-09 with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections, former finance minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has said "populism does not win elections". Addressing a workshop on ''Central Budget and the Finance Bill 2008'', organised by the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) here last night, he said the Congress-led UPA government has come out with the ''populist budget'' to make political gains, but it would not succeed.

"We have entered an unabashed and unapologetic period of competitive populism, but populism does not win elections," he said adding this was a dangerous signal that might be followed by other state governments. Forecasting elections to the Lok Sabha in September, Mr Sinha said if the BJP was voted back to power, it would write off private loans of farmers, abolish the Fringe Benefit Tax and Banking Transactions tax. The former finance minister also criticised Mr Chidambaram for not making any budgetary provisions for waiver of farm loans to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore and the Sixth Pay Commission for central government employees.

UNI

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