BJP Rules Out Sinha Ouster, Economic Reforms To Continue

Panaji, April 11: | Updated: Apr 12 2002, 05:30am hrs
The problem-ridden Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday ruled out the possibility of removal of finance minister Yashwant Sinha from the council of ministers, especially when the latter has been projected as a villain for the partys debacle in the recent Delhi civic polls.

BJP, whose image is at an all-time low, especially due to the ongoing Gujarat violence, indicated that ongoing economic reforms process would continue unabatedly. The party made its stand amply clear on the eve of its two-day national executive meet in Goa.

Krishnamurthy Gives
Clean Chit To Modi

Mr Krishnamurthy has also given a clean chit to controversial Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, whose resignation has been vehemently demanded by the opposition as well as BJP allies, such as Trinamool Congress and Ram Vilas Paswans party. He made clear that the party was not considering any move to show Mr Mody the door. On BJPs stand in Uttar Pradesh, he said that it has already decided to sit in the opposition and there has been no change in it.

Tacit support to Mr Sinha came from none other than party president K Jana Krishnamurthy, who landed along with Union minister for human resources development Murli Manohar Joshi, at the Dabholim airport here on Thursday.

There is no question of Mr Sinhas removal from the Union cabinet. This is not at all under consideration, the BJP president said. Budget-making and its presentation is the prerogative of the finance minister. Some proposals may have evoked disappointment while various others have been welcomed, Mr Krishnamurthy said.

He also indicated that the party, despite various hiccups, was committed to the implementation of ongoing reforms and liberalisation process. Similarly, it was not averse to carrying forward these reforms with a human face, a phrase coined by former Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao, who, though launched the structural reforms process in 1991, had to face a wrath from the Congress party and opposition.

The likes of Sahib Singh Varma and Madan Lal Khurana have already fired their salvos against the finance minister by saying that the recent Budget has scared away the traditional middle-class voter of the party.

Mr Sinha has been under attack for proposing a hefty hike in the prices of gas cylinders and kerosene and also for reducing the interest rates on savings. Although, he had reduced the hike in the prices of gas cylinders, there has been constant pressure to revert to the 20 per cent rebate on specified savings, made under section 88 of the Income Tax Act, for those in the tax bracket of Rs 1.5-5 lakh, instead of 10 per cent he had announced.

Mr Krishnamurthy, by backing Mr Sinha, has also supported the latters decision to rollback prices of gas cylinders. Mr Sinha has already made his position clear that almost every finance minister in recent times has made amendments to the Finance Bill. He had opined that every finance minister is constrained by economic rigidities which the system, and ground realities impose upon them.

Moreover, the national executive commencing from Friday here is expected to make the partys stand clear on the present economic scenario vis-a-vis the BJP-led governments economic policies. A detailed economic resolution, which would be taken up for discussion, is expected to justify Mr Sinhas Budget proposals and also the recent Exim policy, announced by the commerce minister, with an emphasis on promotion of agri-exports and setting up of special economic zones across the country.

The economic resolution is also expected to make its stand clear on the vexed issue of labour reforms and rationalisation of prices of agricultural inputs and urea in particular. BJP has been criticised not only by the party members but also by its allies, particularly against pushing forward the labour reforms especially when the country was a part of WTO regime.