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BJP executive to demand sops for middle class

December 12, 2002 12:41 IST

To win over the BJP's traditional supporters in the middle class, the party's two-day national executive is expected to make a wide-ranging suggestion to Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh to give concession to the salaried class.

This was made clear by BJP spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra when he stated that the two-day executive from December 22 in New Delhi would discuss and analyse the recommendations of the Rajnath Singh committee which was set up to study the Kelkar committee report.

Enthused by the finance minister's announcement yesterday that the government was considering to compensate senior citizens for the loss they incurred on account of lowering of interest rates, Malhotra said the party's executive would discuss the issue of giving concession in income tax to the middle class, particularly salaried employees and women.

The move is, apparently, aimed at neutralising the adverse political affects of the government's economic policies in the past.

Obviously, the party's national executive which will be held in the background of the Gujarat election results to be declared on December 25 is expected to give a definite shape to the BJP's political strategy.

In the event of the BJP's victory, the executive's focus would shift on Gujarat. In the scenario of the BJP's defeat, the executive would be setting the political agenda for winning its traditional voters.

Malhotra claimed that the committee headed by BJP general secretary Rajnath Singh had already received over 2000 representations from various quarters on the Kelkar committee report.

"This committee will give exhaustive recommendations to the executive," he said.

Significantly, the BJP leadership has been maintaining an intriguing silence on the Kelkar committee's recommendations for withdrawing certain exemptions to the salaried class and bring the agriculture income in the tax net.

Rajnath Singh had already stated that he would not endorse those recommendations which would hurt the common man.

"I will not do anything that hurt farmers," he said when asked about bringing the agriculture income into the IT net.

Apparently, the committee appears to be preparing a long list of sops like lowering IT rate for the middle class and giving concession to retired employees without removing the exemption from the tax under various section of the IT Act.

Malhotra said that all these recommendations would be given to the FM for incorporating them into the budget proposals.

"We do not care even if all this sounds populist," said a senior BJP leader when asked if these recommendations would be a bad economics.
Our Political Bureau in New Delhi