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Monday, January 14, 2008

Congress eyes poll-friendly budget

With an eye on general elections, the ruling Congress party instructed its government to present a people-friendly budget next month.

The party told the government in no uncertain terms on Thursday that the burgeoning middle class must get some relief and benefits in the budget.

There are suggestions that the government may increase the ceiling on income tax exemption from the existing Rs120,000 per annum to Rs200,000. This would give a big relief to the middle class.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram were among various senior ministers who attended the meeting held at party chief Sonia Gandhi's residence.

The Congress party is also banking heavily on the Sixth Pay Commission, which is currently reviewing salaries and perks of all central government employees. Its recommendations could affect more than 4 million government employees. Government employees and their families play a decisive role as voters during elections and the Congress party wants to get into their good books. "We had come to power promising to look after common man and our next budget would definitely prove that we are indeed committed to this promise," the Congress office-bearer said.