Senior Congress leaders and its central officer bearers are angry at Finance Minister P Chidambaram ignoring their wish-list in an election year. Aiming to revive economy, finance minister threw all their populist proposals into dustbin; he had received during his consultations with the office bearers at the Congress headquarters on February 14.
The proposals had been kept under wraps. But have been spilled out in the latest issue of the party's monthly mouthpiece 'Congress Sandesh' in what a party leader described as exposure of Chidambaram’s "treachery" with the party. The party’s senior leader and treasurer Motilal Vohra had asked Chidambaram to give another loan amnesty to farmers. He had asked for writing off interest paymenbts on loans to ease farmers’’ burden. He was also told that farmers were not happy with the party and they could be won back by slashing the input cost of agriculture with cheap seeds and fertilizers.
The general refrain was that a populist budget can help gain some ground. There was also a suggestion that the "rich" in the government should take a 1 per cent cut in salaries and 0.5 per cent in pension so that the government has enough money to fund the food security act and other pro-schemes. He was specifically told to focus his budget on providing relief to the poor and the middle class through LPG subsidy, loans and raise the income tax exemption limit from Rs2 lakhs to Rs3 lakh, the magazine revealed. Congress treasurer Motilal Vora
AICC secretary Tarachand Bhagora suggested a scheme to unearth black money, alluding to the voluntary income disclosure scheme that was brought in the 1990s. Led by former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi, many sought focus on dalits, tribals and minorities, demanding higher allocations and new schemes for social groups that are key Congress vote banks.
As the Congress Sandesh notes, "there was enough concern on display over the sensitive issue of cooking gas." It quotes AICC secretary Abdul Mannan Ansari suggest that the government should provide subsidised LPG cylinders to religious, charitable and educational institutions that organise community kitchens.
Chidambaram while explaining the difficulties created by the slow domestic growth and continuing global recession had assured officer bearers that he would allocate enough money to sustain social sector programmes But the office bearers joining the chorus of opposition maintain that the budget has made their position difficult in the wake of coming elections. They, however, hope that Chidambaram would ease up certain things while replying to the debate on budget.