Budget not responsible for price rise : Congress

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (UNI) The Congress today denied the charge of the Left parties that the 2008-09 Union Budget had fuelled inflation and price rise, and said the government had been trying to contain spiralling prices of essential commodities.

"There is no basis in the allegation. It is an aam aadmi budget, "AICC Spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told mediapersons, while accepting that the party was not happy over the price rise.

"We want the government to take immediate steps to bring down price rise. We are happy that Finance Minister P Chidambaram had given assurance in Parliament that steps would be taken to address the issue of price rise." Asked if price rise would not undo the good will generated by the government through its Rs 60,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme, Mr Ahmed said "price rise is not a good thing." "In fact, as a political party, we have concern towards aam aadmi." On the allegation of the Left parties that the government had been indulging in political victimisation of their governments in West Bengal and Kerala in the matter of rice and wheat quota under the public distribution system (PDS), Mr Shakeel said, "we totally disapprove of the charge about political vendetta." In this context, he pointed out that allocation of foodgrains for PDS depended on the lifting of earlier allocated quota. "However, we will ask the government to look into it." He also dismissed the charge that Mr Chidambaram had failed to check price rise, and said, "he is a successful Finance Minister. " Replying to a question on dwindling share of BSNL and MTNL in landline and mobile connections, Mr Ahmed said there was no truth in the allegation that the private telecom operators were being helped by the two PSUs for their growth.

"We are totally committed to the growth of the two PSUs in the telecom sector," he said.

Asked about the displeasure expressed by controversial Bangaladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen about her stay in India, he said, "she was kept in India as a guest and continues to be so with the permission of the Government of India." In this context, he said the Union Government could not force any state government if it felt that her presence would create law and order problem, which is a state subject.

UNI SH KD RS1811

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