Middle class needs support: BJP leaders to FM

NEW DELHI: Relief for the middle class from their tax burden, industry concerns and trade issues were among the budget wish lists presented by various groups of the BJP who met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the party headquarters here on Monday.

“There were demands that the middle class needs some support from the government – whether it is some relief on the tax rates or incentives,” Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP spokesperson on economic issues, told ET. “Some members raised industry’s concerns over raw material and also bilateral and multilateral trade issues.”

Agarwal and senior leaders including party general secretary, organisation, BL Santosh, general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Arun Singh and MP and spokesperson on economic issues Zafar Islam were present during the meetings.

Party members told ET that Agarwal and Islam also had a meeting with the FM regarding the suggestions put forward by the various groups. Islam spoke largely on the industry’s concerns and fiscal consolidation.

The budget is scheduled to be presented on February 1, about 10 months after a nationwide lockdown was imposed in March to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The restrictions, which have been lifted in phases, led the economy to contract for two consecutive quarters. Amid signs of recovery, the Reserve Bank of India expects the economy to shrink 7.5% in FY21.

The BJP had sought suggestions in a similar exercise conducted before the announcement of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package and several recommendations were included in the final announcement.

The pre-budget demands from state units ranged from special schemes for women farmers, employment generation for women and higher allocation for the industrial development of states.

BJP national secretary and Daman Diu in-charge Vijaya Rahatkar demanded small and medium enterprise clusters exclusively for women entrepreneurs. She also said a fair minimum wage for women workers in the unorganised sector should be fixed at Rs 15,000 per month.

A four-member group from the party’s Bihar unit submitted a memorandum to the FM on making provisions for industrial and economic development of the state.

“We had made certain commitments in our manifesto and we would expect the Centre to help us achieve those goals,” Devesh Kumar, Bihar BJP general secretary who was part of the group, told ET. “The FM has assured us she will visit Bihar with a few investors after the budget session in order to see investment and growth opportunities.”

Sitharaman is said to have asked the Bihar BJP leaders to prepare a detailed report on the land bank available in the state, which would make it easier to decide on the nature of investment in different regions.

Apart from this, 17 representatives of different social groups from the BJP and the RSS also met the FM with their wish lists. Seva Bharti, the community service wing of the RSS, suggested how NGOs can better participate in the outreach of government policies.

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