BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY
National Executive Meeting
16, 17 & 18 September 2005
Chennai : September 17, 2005
The UPA came into power 15 months ago with the promise to safeguard the interests of the "aam aadmi", to eradicate poverty and unemployment, to prevent farmers' suicides, to end labour exploitation, to remove the difficulties of the middle class and to accelerate the pace of economic reforms.
In these 15 months, the UPA Government has failed to honour even a single promise and has utterly failed on the economic front. During the last year of the NDA Government, the growth rate was 8.4 percent, which during the last one year of the UPA regime has gone down to 6.9 percent.
The country is facing a situation in which imports are increasing and exports decreasing. On account of this, in the first five months of the current year (April to August) the trade deficit has reached the figure of Rs. 78,300 crores ($ 17.4 billion), which in the corresponding months last year stood at Rs. 43,650 crores. In the first five months of the current year, the imports went up to Rs. 2,38,950 crores while these stood at Rs. 1,74,600 crores during the corresponding months last year.
The Dr. Manmohan Singh Government is existing on the support of the Left parties. As a result of this, overawed by their fear and threats, the UPA Government is kneeling before them at the cost of national interests. The Congress and Left parties entertain only one ideological commonalty – their antipathy to the BJP. Because of absence of unity of thought on any other issue, the economic progress of the country has got derailed. Whenever the Congress has formed a government in alliance with the Left parties, the interests of the country have always suffered. In 1971 Indiraji in alliance with the Left parties had given the slogan "garibi hatao". Poverty did not vanish but the country's democratic set up certainly broke down. Because of their narrow economic vision, the country was plunged into the worst economic crisis in 1991, when India had to mortgage its gold reserves to honour its financial commitments at the international level.
It is ironical that what the Left parties oppose at the centre, they support in West Bengal. In West Bengal, disinvestment and privatisation of public sector undertakings and foreign direct investment is taking place unabated. Outside Parliament, Left parties generally take the Government to task on the issue of economic reforms and even resort to strikes. However inside Parliament they meekly support the government.
The Congress and Left parties are claiming credit for passing the Employment Guarantee Bill in Parliament, but it does not stand the test of the promises made by Congress-led alliance in its election manifesto and Common Minimum Programme (CMP). In the CMP, it has been promised that employment guarantee will also be extended to the urban unemployment and middle class people. However, instead of a National Employment Guarantee Bill, the Government has only gone in for a Rural Employment Guarantee Bill. The 4 crore poor, educated, unemployed living in the urban areas have been kept out of the purview of this Bill.
In the rural areas also, only one adult (man or woman) will get employment even if a large or joint family has more than one such adult. The person will get a daily wage of Rs. 60 for 100 days in a year. How can a large or joint family live on an income of just Rs. 500 per month?
Atalji's government's ambitious river linking project, the Golden Quadrilateral, National Highway Project, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, modernisation of airports and sea-ports, plan to expand the network of hospitals and educational institutions all over the country, extensive irrigations projects and many other developmental projects were generating employment for more than one crore persons every year. All these projects have either been put in cold storage or work on them is progressing at a snail's pace.
The wrong policies of the Government during the last 15 months have rendered jobless crores of people working in the small scale and cottage industries. The stated intention of the UPA to permit FDI in Retail sector will also result in unemployment of crores of people
Because of pressure from the Left parties, the pace of economic reforms has been retarded and as a result of this, employment generation in the industry is not taking place.
Although more than 60 percent of the country's population is dependant upon agriculture, yet the UPA government is paying least attention to this sector.
Many areas of the country are suffering the fury of either excessive rains or floods. Some areas are in the grip of drought. By giving a go-by to the inter-linking of rivers and irrigation projects, the situation in the agricultural sector has become serious.
The UPA Government is failing to appreciate that it is far more necessary to generate among farmers the capacity to payback loans rather than merely extending the facility of loans to them. On their failure to return loans, dejected farmers in their helplessness often resort to suicide. Farmers get ruined when they fail to get remunerative prices for their produce and suffer unbearable loss because of natural calamities such as floods, hailstorms, drought, and storms. They lose their capacity to payback the loans. As compared to earlier years, there has been a spurt in the number of farmer suicides in various states of the country since the UPA Government assumed power 15 months ago. On an average, everyday 10 farmers are committing suicide in the country. In Andhra Pradesh alone, 2850 farmers have committed suicide during the UPA rule.
There has been a heavy increase in the prices of diesel, steel, agricultural implements, seed etc. over the last 15 months. During this period, petrol prices have shot up by 32 percent and diesel prices by Rs. 8. In comparison, the prices farmers get for their produce have gone down drastically. The NDA government had set in motion the addition of ethanol to petroleum products so as to remunerate the farmer and reduce petroproduct prices. THE UPA government has not done anything in this regard
Bio-diesel can be a better alternative to offset the continually rising prices of crude oil and increasing power crisis. Many countries are undertaking research and doing work on extracting bio-oil from sunflower, soya and palm oils. In our country there is enormous potential for extracting bio-diesel from karanj, jatropa, neem and mahua. It can also generate employment opportunities for 1 crore 10 lakh people.
Although there has been a fall in the wholesale price index as compared to last year, yet it is still higher than the average price index during the NDA regime.
Wholesale price index is not the real index of the prices of essential commodities consumed by the common man. While the prices of luxuries and goods consumed by the rich people have gone down, the prices of essential goods consumed by the poor and middle class have gone up drastically. The increase in prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas, steel, and cement has led to unprecedented rise in the prices of all consumer goods. The skyrocketing prices of sugar, fruits, vegetables, water and electricity have crushed the back of the common man.
In the last 15 months, the prices of coal, sugar, tea, sarson oil, dal milk, chillies, maida, fruits, vegetables, chappal etc. have gone up between 20 to 90 percent. In Delhi, the Congress party came to power because of increase in the price of onions. Of late, there has been an unprecedented spurt in the prices of onions all over the country. Under the Vajpayee regime, cooking gas was available all over the country in plenty and at cheaper rates. Now there is a great shortage of cooking gas in most of the areas in the country and black marketing is flourishing.
The BJP demands from the Government:
1. An Employment Guarantee Bill for the urban unemployed should be passed in the next session of Parliament.
2. All adult persons, men or women, in a family should be provided employment.
3. Rs. 60 per day or the minimum wage fixed in a particular State, whichever is higher, should be confirmed. The allocation made under the scheme is grossly inadequate and the needed funds should be allotted immediately.
4. Within two years the Rural Employment Guarantee scheme should be extended to every district of the country.
5. Work on the schemes and projects formulated during NDA regime should be accelerated.
6. The NDA government had reduced the rate of interest for farmers from 15 percent to 9 percent and it proposed to further bring it down to 6 percent. The BJP National Executive demands that the UPA Government should move in the direction of reducing further the rate of interest on loans granted to farmers in order to help them come out of the distress situation and make agriculture viable.
7. The Farmer's Income Insurance Scheme should be implemented all over the country so as to ensure that both production and price are insured.
8. The UPA Government has consigned to cold storage the NDA Government's proposal to construct rural godowns and cold storages in rural areas. The BJP demands that this scheme should be immediately implemented.
9. The Government should ensure remunerative prices to farmers for their produce and should ensure that in times of crisis they should not be forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices.
10. The BJP National Executive expresses concern about the serious drought and flood situation in different parts of the country and calls upon the Central Government to provide adequate relief and support to the states to help the affected.
11. The Government should formulate a scheme to encourage farmers to go in for karanj, jatropa, neem, mahua cultivation. A Task Force should be constituted for this purpose immediately.
12. The Central Government should formulate a scheme for providing marketing assistance to horticulture and floriculture.
13. Foreign Direct Investment in retail sector should not be permitted.
14. Considering the high employment potential of small scale and cottage industries, a subsidy should be given on rate of interest.
15. The social security scheme introduced by the NDA government for unorganized sector which has been discontinued by the UPA government should be immediately reintroduced.
16. The UPA government should introduce ethanol mixing on a mandatory basis.
17. The steep rise in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas should be reduced. As compared to other countries, the increase effected in these commodities in our country in much higher. The Government should maintain prices of these goods by effecting reduction in excise duty, import duty. The Government has to evolve a supportive mechanism to take care of the unusual and unnatural price fluctuations of petroleum products.
18. The service tax imposed on service providers of goods and services to the common man is in fact becoming a burden on the common man. The BJP demands that the service tax which is a burden on the common man should be reduced and there should be reduction in other taxes as far as possible.
19. The exemption limit for senior citizens and women in the Income Tax has been reduced. Exemption limit should be increased for senior citizens and women to Rs 2.5 lacs
20. While the Fringe Benefit Tax has put employers and owners to a loss, at the same time employees have also been deprived of many benefits. The BJP demands that Fringe Benefit Tax should be withdrawn.