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Basu hopeful of budget containing Left suggestions

By Our Special Correspondent

KOLKATA, FEB. 25. The former West Bengal Chief Minister and senior Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Jyoti Basu, is hopeful that the Union Budget proposals for 2005-2006 will reflect suggestions made by leaders of the Left parties.

"Both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have assured us that our suggestions [on the budget proposals] will be considered," Mr. Basu said here today.

Leaders of the Left parties held discussions with the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, Sonia Gandhi, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, in New Delhi yesterday when they were reportedly assured that the budget would reflect their concerns for the social sector. The Left parties' concerns include employment generation, expansion of education and health care facilities and increasing investment in farm infrastructure.

"I hope we will be benefited from the discussions," Mr. Basu added.

Dismissing claims

Mr. Basu dismissed the Chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Autonomous Council, Subash Ghising's statements that as Chief Minister, he had assured Mr. Ghising that there could be discussions revising the Council's powers at a later stage. Mr. Ghising said Mr. Basu had given him the assurance at the time of the signing of the Memorandum of Settlement, which paved the way for the formation of the Council in 1988.

Mr. Basu clarified that he had insisted on the formation of the Council then as a solution to the problems in the hills in the wake of the violent agitation for a separate Gorkhaland State.

He reiterated that elections to the Council would be held in due course and that the CPI (M) expected Mr. Ghising to participate in the polls.

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