The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP slams DA plan

New Delhi, Oct. 16: Senior BJP MP Vijay Kumar Malhotra has opposed the Centre’s move to freeze a hike in the dearness allowance (DA), reports our special correspondent.

In a letter to finance minister Jaswant Singh today, Malhotra, who is the South Delhi MP and chief whip of the BJP parliamentary party, urged him not to “succumb” to the pressure being exerted by the state governments on the Centre to put the DA increase on hold.

Malhotra said he spoke to Singh before sending him the letter and got the indication that the Centre would not act in a hurry. The finance minister has convened a meeting of state finance ministers here tomorrow and it is expected that the DA hike issue would be on the agenda.

Malhotra sought to impress on Singh that the cut in interest rates paid by banks and investor companies had already negatively impacted the middle-class. If the DA hike was frozen, it would increase their hardships even more.

BJP sources claimed that the states, especially those ruled by the Congress, wanted to “have the cake and eat it too”. “On the one hand, they complain that they are so cash-strapped that they can’t pay their employees’ salaries and, therefore, want to freeze the DA increase. But on the other hand, if the Centre obliges them, these same Congressmen will go to town saying how anti-people the BJP is. In the end, we will have to bear the brunt of it all,” said sources.

The sources said Malhotra explained to Singh that with Assembly elections due next year in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP was pitted directly against the Congress, the former would stand to lose heavily if “unpopular” measures like the DA hike freeze were carried out.

Malhotra also asked the finance minister to implement at the earliest reforms in the pension scheme.

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