Congress leaders present budget wishlist to Chidambaram


New Delhi : Increasing subsidised cooking gas cylinders from nine to 12, more jobs, curbing price rise and providing income tax relief to the salaried class were some of the wishes Congress leaders shared with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday during his pre-budget consultations, said party leaders.

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“Issues like farm sector, minorities, tribal development, education and infrastructure sector were raised. Out of the 46 leaders present, 32, including Chidamabaram, spoke,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters after the two hour long meeting.

Briefing the leaders, Chidambaram told the leaders that the Indian economy was undergoing a difficult period and the global recession has impacted the growth rate.

He said former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had tried to arrest the decline in the Indian economy in 2008-09 through a financial stimulus.

“Chidambaram highlighted that the fiscal deficit has to be controlled,” said a Congress leader who was present in the meeting.

Senior leader Ajit Jogi talked about tribal development and the need to push development projects in the Maoist-affected areas.

General secretary Oscar Fernandes wanted more gas reserves to be found to reduce India’s dependence on oil imports.

Suggestions about increasing the budgets for minority welfare, child welfare and education development departments were also made.

General secretary Jagdish Tytler stressed the government should focus on creating more employment opportunities with an eye on the 2014 general elections.

Demands like a rail coach factory in Jammu and Kashmir to generate local employment and focused development of the usually neglected north eastern region were also made during the meeting, said the sources.

Some leaders also wanted spending on social sector and flagship programmes to be increased.