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Left threatens to turn against UPA goverment

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New Delhi, Feb 26 (UNI) Already cut up with the Railway Budget proposals, the Left parties today warned the UPA government to be prepared to face their wrath if it continued with its ''anti-people and pro-affluent'' approach in the General Budget.

They reminded the government of rising prices of essential commodities, unabated farmers suicides, the widening rich-poor gap and warned of further straining of relationship between the Left and the Congress-led UPA government if corrective measures were not taken.

Talking to UNI, leaders of the CPI, CPI(M) and the Forward Bloc said the Government was implementing its ''anti-people'' economic agenda of privatisation to benefit the upper classes at the cost of the ''Aam Admi''.

CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan, claiming that the common man's interests had been totally ignored in the Railway budget, said ''if the Union Budget also takes a pro-affluent approach, the Left will will have no option but to go against it.'' ''The Left favoured widening of the tax net, greater burden on those who could pay, relief to the man on the street, more expenditure on education, public health system and social security,'' Mr Bardhan said.

CPI National Secretary Shamim Faizi said if the Manmohan Singh government, ''which survived on the support of the Left parties, demonstrated a pro-affluent attitude in the General Budget as well, it would be considered as ''anti-people''.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has ''wasted'' the earnings of the ministry on the affluent classes, Mr Faizi alleged.

The ratio of direct and indirect taxes had to be reversed in favour of the common people, the CPI leader said, adding that any attempts to impose a burden on the people in a camouflaged manner as the Railway Minister had done by converting 200 trains into Super-fast ones, which would actually translate into hiking of fares, would be opposed.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe said the Left parties expect the UPA government to accord top priority to investment in agriculture and the rural sector, allocation for education and health besides containing the price rise of essential commodities.

The CPI(M) leader said they also expected the government to increase the allocation to expand the ambit of the national Rural Employment Act beyond 200 districts. ''Tax the rich and the affluent to generate revenue for implementing social projects as contained in the national Common Minimum Programme.'' The Government should also take initatives to bridge the growing gap between imports and exports, Mr Pandhe said.

Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas said the government should allocate two per cent of the GDP for public health and six per cent for education as per the commitments in the CMP.

''The government should also explain its collection by way of one per cent cess on education and how it spent the funds...it has not come with a clear picture on the issue.'' Mr Biswas said the Budget was not a mathematical exercise and must reflect the financial and economic policy of the government.

The government's claim on economic growth, in terms of the Sensex and the GDP touching new heights and the huge reserves of FDI, did not correspond with the picture on the ground, he said.

On the unabated farmers suicides in various parts of the country, he expressed concern that the farming community was in a debt trap.

''The prices of essential commodities were sky-rocketing, going out of the reach of the poor and the downtrodden,'' the CPI(M) leader said, adding that steps should be taken to check the trend.

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