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Defer policy decisions till polls: Sonia

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 4. The Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, today hoped that with the country heading for a general election, the National Democratic Alliance Government would not take any decisions that impact significantly on policy and investment.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, she said his Government had announced massive sops in taxation, signed major defence deals and sanctioned mega projects in railways and other sectors. "Apart from the ethical question involved in taking such decisions in view of the fact that your party and the Government had already decided to go in for early elections, all precedents have been violated by making a series of budgetary-type announcements without actually presenting a proper budget to Parliament. The intent appears to have been to reap political mileage without having to face the responsibility of balancing the budget and controlling the fiscal deficit."

Drawing his attention to reports that the NDA Government was also trying to rush through the adoption of recommendations of long-pending reports of various committees such as the Naresh Chandra Committee on Civil Aviation, she said such actions would amount to major policy decisions on vital sectors such as infrastructure.

Since the Prime Minister had recommended the dissolution of the 13th Lok Sabha on February 6, his Government would take the form and character of a "caretaker" Government. "My party and I sincerely hope that your Government would not offend the highest traditions or our democracy by taking any decisions that impact significantly on policy, investment and the vital interests of the people in general. Such decision should be held in abeyance till the institution of the 14th Lok Sabha," Ms. Gandhi said. She also wrote separate letters to leaders of the Opposition parties thanking them for their cooperation and support during the 13th Lok Sabha.

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