Thursday, April 27, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Allies to pressure govt on prices
Oppn to move cut motions in House
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, April 26 — Allies of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) today decided to keep up the pressure on the government to roll back prices of foodgrain supplied through the public distribution system, (PDS), reduction in fertiliser subsidy and rise in the prices of LPG and kerosene.

At a specially convened meeting of the allies which was attended by leaders of the TDP, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-United, Indian National Lok Dal, Shiv Sena and the MDMK, the parties decided to step up pressure.

“We will press for our demands both inside and outside Parliament, the Janata Dal-United Leader, Mr Devendra Prasad Yadav, told correspondents after a 40-minute meeting in Parliament today.

The decision came a day before the Lok Sabha is scheduled to discuss the price rise issue even as the Opposition parties, including the Congress, plan to move cut motions.

The allies have been demanding a total rollback in prices of PDS items and a ‘reasonable’ review of the hike in the rates of LPG and kerosene.

The TDP Leader, Mr K. Yerran Naidu, said that the allies were hopeful that the government would take the issue seriously as it concerned the poor and those below the poverty line (BPL).

There is a feeling among the allies that the hike in the prices of foodgrains, which affects those below the poverty line, would reflect on the ruling alliance, especially as it had been effected at a time when several states where reeling under drought.

The Telugu Desam, a crucial ally of the NDA, has been highly critical of the hike in the foodgrain prices.

On the other hand, the Indian National Lok Dal has been demanding that the reduction in subsidy on fertiliser be rolled back. The Haryana Chief Minister and INLD Chief, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, had issued a statement demanding the rollback the day the Finance Minister Mr Yashwant Sinha, spelt it out in his Budget speech.

For the Trinamool Congress, it is the hike in the price of kerosene and foodgrain prices that is causing a problem. Their concern is height ened in view of the elections to civic bodies in West Bengal next month.

The Trinamool Congress which identifies itself as a ‘pro-poor’ party feels it cannot afford to keep quiet on this issue.

While the allies are pressing for a rollback, at the same time they would not like to be seen aligning with the Opposition, which plans to bring in cut motions. Meanwhile, an indication that the government could reconsider the price hike was given by the BJP spokesman, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, who said it was for the government to strike a balance keeping in mind the interests of the people and of the country.

The allies had earlier submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister during the first phase of the Budget session.

The government also came under pressure on foodgrains hike through the PDS and hike and cut in subsidy with the Parliamentary Committee on Food, Civil Supplies and Public Distribution demanding that the government must roll back the increase in prices for those below poverty line.

The strategy among the allies, who are driven by regional compulsions, is to keep up the pressure on the government on roll back of PDS issue price so that when the Finance Minister Mr Yashwant Sinha, replies on the Finance Bill, he may consider some of the demands.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, yesterday did not take up the issue while replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address since the same will be tackled by Mr Sinha in Parliament.

Today’s meeting was attended by Mr K. Yerrannaidu (TDP), Mr D.P. Yadav (JD-U), Mr Sudip Bandhopadhayaya (Trinamool Congress), Mr Sushil Kumar Indora (INLD), Mr Anant Gite (Shiv Sena) and Mr Vaiko (MDMK).

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