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April 26, 2000
Govt agrees to roll back foodgrain price-hikes, but only just
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party today won a partial victory with the government agreeing to "slightly" roll back the prices of Public Distribution System or PDS foodgrains like rice and wheat, government sources confirmed.
"The government has agreed to slightly roll back the prices of PDS rice and wheat in deference to the wishes of the BJP's allies, especially the Janata Dal (United) and the Telugu Desam Party," a senior Union finance ministry official told rediff.com.
But he indicated that the rollback would be " very marginal" and not what the BJP-led coalition partners had actually demanded.
The JD(U) deputy leader in the Lok sabha and former Union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav, who had earlier asserted that the dissatisfied allies would not rest till the BJP-led government effected the rollback of the PDS foodgrains, seemed happy that "our campaign has been successful."
"We among the allies had underscored that we will not let the government function until and unless it effected the rollback and now that you say it has been done, we are satisfied. But we have to see by what percentage these have been rolled back," he pointed out.
TDP Lok Sabha leader Yerran Naidu echoed similar sentiments but warned that "the rollback must be substantial enough to provide succour for those who are entitled to them."
Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha had yesterday hinted about the government was "considering some changes in the budgetary proposals relating to the demand for rollback in the hike of PDS foodgrain prices."
Hinting at the imminent rollback, Sinha had contended that "if I make any change, I will not be the first finance minister to do so nor will I be the last."
Sinha's contention was a far cry from his earlier assertion that there would be no rollback of the PDS foodgrain prices and subsidies.
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