As Politics Unfolds Most Dirty Pictures , Ethnic Cleansing Gets A Nuclear Momentum!
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As politics unfolds most dirty pictures , ethnic cleansing gets a nuclear momentum!

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As political drama unfolds most dirty pictures of Indian Politics, ethnic cleansing gets a nuclear momentum!

Palash Biswas

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As political drama unfolds most dirty pictures of Indian Politics, ethnic cleansing gets a nuclear momentum.India’s nuclear operator has started loading enriched uranium fuel in the first reactor of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project after getting the final clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on Tuesday.Mind you, recent FDI details root into Indo US nuclear deal and the corporate government of free market economy is all set to implement energy reforms to spell nuclear disaster for the country killing ecology, environment, biocycle, sea coastline and finally mankind.The Kudankulam nuclear plant had run into a rash of protests following concern in the local communities on safety issues in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in March last year.Moving ahead with steps to revive investor sentiment and curb demand for gold, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday cut withholding tax on overseas borrowings to 5 per cent from 20 per cent and approved the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS).While the RGESS is aimed at encouraging first time retail investors to invest in stock markets through tax concessions, the cut in withholding tax to 5 per cent seeks to lower the cost of foreign borrowings by the Indian companies.Unmindful of the political crisis it is faced with, threatening the survival of the Central Government, the Manmohan Singh government, on Thursday, went ahead and notified 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail and 49 per cent FDI each in the civil aviation and power sectors, putting an end to speculation about a possible roll back of its decisions.New reforms cleared on Friday included slashing a tax on overseas borrowing by Indian firms and implementing a scheme to encourage individuals to invest in the stock market. The government also hopes to allow more foreign investment in the insurance sector and reduce sugar subsidies for the poor - the price of sugar available under the Public Distribution System or PDS could go up by Rs. 3. That may not go down well with allies like Mr Yadav and the DMK, who have objected to last week's increase in diesel prices and the cap on subsidised cooking gas for households.

The Indian Air Force will spend about Rs. 2 lakh crore on procurements during the 12 and 13 Plan periods.Referring to foreign retail giants which would come to India, Mamata Banerjee said "uncle, dunkel will come and they will become twinkle, twinkle and you will be nowhere in the picture." Major retailers gathered at the three-day World Retail Congress in London believe that despite restrictions in recent FDI announcements in India, there will be "tremendous interest" after its implementation. Since Ms Banerjee announced her decision to drop out of the government earlier this week, Mr Yadav had hinted but not committed that his support to the government will continue. Today, he ended the suspense for the Congress by announcing that he will stand by the coalition while opposing reforms like FDI in retail. He also said that his allegiance with the UPA is prompted by his commitment to keeping the "communal forces" of the BJP at bay.Sources say that to appease Mr Yadav and Mayawati, the government is likely to announce a 50 paise rollback in diesel prices, and increase the quota of subsidised cooking gas cylinders per household from six to nine.

Walmart Stores Inc has said it is capable of opening stores within 12 to 18 months in India, a media report says.The corporate India and MNCs succeeded to get rid of the most unpredictable obsticle in the express way of capitalist exclusive development, Ms Mamata Banerjee and her party TMC.The celebration in the ruling hegemony is well reflected in the bullish mood in the market.Indian stock indexes rose over 2percent on Friday to their highest since July 2011 after the government announced new measures on overseas borrowing,bolstering confidence about its resolve to continue undertaking long-awaited reforms. After opening 62 points higher, the BSE benchmark index built on the initial momentum as foreign fund flows gushed in with the government on Thursday notifying its decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, aviation and broadcasting sectors.The Sensex on Friday closed at one-year high of 18,752.83 surging by 404 points as the stock market gave thumbs up to UPA government’s resolve to push ahead with economic reforms on the back of continued support from the Samajwadi Party.Soon after, the Sensex intra-day zoomed over 517 points to 18,866.87, a new high in 14 months, on reports that Samajwadi Party has pledged to continue support to the government on a day Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress pulled out of UPA. The BJP was today evasive whether it would demand a floor test in Parliament to determine if the Manmohan Singh-led government enjoyed a majority following withdrawal of support to it by Trinamool Congress. The rupee on Friday gained a hefty 93 paise to close at over 4-month high of 53.45 on massive USD 430 million capital inflows, amid government lowering a tax for overseas borrowing by local companies and easing of recent political worries.Heavy dollar selling by exporters and some banks on the back of weakness in dollar overseas also boosted the rupee sentiment, forex dealers said.

Shortly after Mamata Banerjee and her Trinmool Congress quit the government, the senior-most leaders of the Congress met with the Prime Minister and party president Sonia Gandhi. Without Ms Banerjee, the ruling coalition is in a minority, though it is not in any imminent danger because regional heavyweights Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati are continuing external support, despite differences over the economic reforms the Prime Minister has introduced.Tonight at 8, Dr Manmohan Singh will address the nation on television to explain those reforms - capping subsidised cooking gas for households, increasing diesel prices and opening up the vast retail sector to foreign giants like Wal-Mart. Sources say he will describe the reforms as necessary for economic growth and creating jobs. "Lots of distortion is going on...some misinformation campaign is going on," said V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, as opposition parties and even some allies continue to reject the need for liberalising the retail sector. Euphoric at the reforms, the 30-share BSE Sensex soared 404 points to end the day at 18,752 points, its highest close in 14 months.At the meeting this evening, discussions were held on statements post yesterday's bandh over the reforms introduced last week. "We have to see which are the reforms which we can implement without much difficulty," Mr Narayanasamy admitted, "we will consult our allies and take them on board."

Trinamool Congress on Friday formally withdrew support to the UPA government and its six Ministers quit in protest against FDI in retail.Congress on Friday said it would pull out its ministers from the West Bengal government, days after Trinamool Congress decided to withdraw support to the UPA government.The party, which has 19 members in the Lok Sabha, gave a letter withdrawing support to the government to President Pranab Mukherjee.Minutes earlier, six Trinamool Congress Ministers submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who expressed sadness over their decision.The Ministers — Mukul Roy, Sudip Bandhyopadhay, Sultan Ahmed, Saugata Roy, Sisir Adhikary and C. M. Jatua — went to the Prime Minister’s 7, Race Course Road residence to submit their resignations.Straight from there, they went to Rashtrapati Bhavan for give the letter withdrawing support.

“We, the six Trinamool Congress Ministers of the Council of Ministers, including Cabinet Minister, went to the Prime Minister’s residence at 4 p.m. and we handed over to him individual letters of resignation of all the six Ministers,” said Mr. Saugata Roy.

“Now, we have come to Rashtrapati Bhavan and handed over a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, signed by Mukul Roy, chairman of the Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party, withdrawing our support to the UPA-II government... The President has accepted our letter,” he said.

Earlier, while receiving the resignation letters, the Prime Minister said he was “sad” that they were quitting, Mr. Bandhyopadhay said.Asked whether the Trinamool leaders had demanded a floor test by the government to check its majority, Mr. Saugata Roy said, “no, we did not. Beyond what I have told you, we have not said anything extra.”He refused to reveal what the Prime Minister told them, saying it was confidential.

Mr. Bandhyopadhyay was Minister of State for Health, Mr. Ahmed MoS for Tourism, Mr. Sougata Roy MoS for Urban Development, Mr. Adhikary MoS Rural Development and Mr. Jatua MoS Information and Broadcasting.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday had announced the party’s decision to withdraw support to the UPA protesting the Centre’s decisions to hike diesel prices, withdraw subsidy on cooking gas and allow FDI in multi-brand retail.

With the six Trinamool Congress Union ministers handing over their resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, party supremo Mamata Banerjee stepped up her barbs against the Congress-led UPA regime saying notifying FDI in multi-brand by a 'minority' government was 'unethical and undemocratic'.

"Without consulting anyone the decision on FDI was taken. Notifying FDI by the minority government is undemocratic and unethical. This cannot be done by force," Banerjee told a meeting here in North 24 Parganas district.

Apparently referring to Congress, Banerjee said, "don't try to browbeat or intimidate us. Nothing can stop or scare me. I don't have money but I don't care. I will continue to speak for the people's interests whatsover threat may come.

"What we say, we implement. A day will come when I will be no more on this earth. Many attempts were made to kill me. But till I remain alive, I will remain like a tiger cub," she said.

"What Bengal could achieve they have little idea. Bengal is the land of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, Rabidranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam. It is a land of culture and sacrifice. Bengal will show the way to the entire country," the Trinamool chief said.

Referring to the capping of subsidised LPG cylinders, Banerjee said, "Your kitchen will be on fire, will you tolerate it?"

Stating that her party was fighting to protect the interests of the people and 'Ma-Mati-Manush', she said "We don't want alms. Bengal can stand on its own. India will see the fight of the people of Bengal. We will win."

Claiming that FDI in multi-brand retail would take away the livelihood of crores of people engaged in small businesses and hit the farmers' market, she said "Everything will be taken away. Will you swallow this or fight?"

"Whether you cultivate chili they will decide. New shopping malls will come up. If they tell you to eat, you will eat. Do you remember GATT? This is the grandfather of GATT."

Referring to foreign retail giants which would come to India, she said "uncle, dunkel will come and they will become twinkle, twinkle and you will be nowhere in the picture."

Indian defence is subjected to unprecedented shopping to defend the US war and weapon economy in accordance with Washington wish. The Indian Air Force will spend about Rs. 2 lakh crore on procurements during the 12 and 13 Plan periods, Deputy Chief of IAF Air Marshal R. K. Sharma said here on Thursday.Speaking at the inaugural session of the 7 international conference on “Energizing Indian Aerospace Industry,” co-organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Centre for Air Power Studies, he said contracts worth $4 billion had already been signed. “We are on the path of modernising our assets. In the last Five Year Plan, IAF procurements were around Rs 1.5 lakh crore and over the next two Plan periods, we envisage procuring assets worth more than Rs 2 lakh crore.’’The IAF is planning to sign a number of big ticket deals in the near future, including one for 126 multi-role combat aircraft expected to cost over Rs 50,000 crore and another for the fifth generation fighter aircraft with Russia which is expected to cost Rs. 1 lakh crore.The IAF Deputy Chief said there was a “huge potential” for the private sector in the defence sector. “You must adopt the best ethical practices and be extremely sensitive to IAF’s concerns about the security of information. Indian aerospace industry will have to focus on developing in-house infrastructure, training and research and development capabilities to energise this sector.’’He said the DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) must not see the private sector as a competitor, but as a partner in developing an indigenous defence industry

The RGESS, Mr. Chidambaram said, will “give tax benefits to new investors who invest up to Rs. 50,000 and whose annual income is below Rs. 10 lakh.

“It will act as alternative financial instrument and encourage more people to invest in this instrument rather than gold, which is a dead instrument”, he said.The scheme was announced by the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his 2012-13 budget speech.According to Mr. Chidambaram, “the scheme not only encourages the flow of savings and improves the depth of domestic capital markets, but also aims to promote an “equity culture” in India. This is also expected to widen the retail investor base in the Indian securities markets.”Besides the equities of blue chip private and public sector companies, he said, the investors under the scheme would also be permitted to invest through Mutual Funds and listed Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).As regards the withholding tax on overseas borrowings, Mr. Chidambaram said that appropriate amendments would be made in the Income Tax Act, 1961, under which the interest income of a non-resident investor will be taxed at reduced rate of 5 per cent instead of 20 per cent.The Rajiv Gandhi Equity Scheme would be open to retail investors who would be investing in equity markets for the first time. The scheme would have a total lock-in period of three years, including an initial blanket one year lock-in when trading will not be possible.

“The maximum investment permissible under the scheme is up to Rs. 50,000 and the investor would get a 50 per cent deduction of the amount invested from the taxable income for that year,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

The Department of Revenue would soon notify the scheme and market regulator SEBI will issue relevant circulars to operationalise it in two weeks.

Besides, Mr. Chidambaram also allowed domestic companies to access cheaper funds from abroad and lowered tax on overseas borrowings.The reduced tax will apply to funds borrowed between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2015, Mr. Chidambaram said.

“It is to encourage overseas borrowings. Interest rates are low abroad and these low cost funds can come to India,” Mr. Chidambaram said.He further said that the guidelines would have some generic conditions which if the corporates satisfy will enable them to directly access the overseas market for raising funds.

“Anyone satisfying general conditions need not come to government for case by case approval,” Mr. Chidambaram said, adding that the borrowings could be done in the form of loan agreement or by way of long term infrastructure bonds that comply with External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) regulations.

“The fuel loading has started on Wednesday,” a senior official in the nuclear establishment said.

The official said the AERB had granted its final clearance to start loading of 163 fuel bundles late evening on Tuesday after the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) fulfilled the conditions set by the regulator.

The loading of fuel is expected to take about 10 days, officials said.

The NPCIL is setting up two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors at Kudankulam with Russian collaboration.

After the fuel loading is completed, the NPCIL will take up the process to start the fission reaction for the first time in the nuclear reactor.

At every stage, it would have to seek clearance from the AERB officials before proceeding to the next step.

After reaching first criticality, the power generation would begin and it would be scaled up to the maximum level in a gradual manner under the watchful guard of the nuclear regulator.

The nuclear reactor will have to operate to the 100 per cent satisfaction of the regulator before the NPCIL is granted the operating license for the first unit.

“The company is capable of opening stores within 12 to 18 months and would be seeking permission to do so from states that have already indicated their willingness to have the US retailer set up shop” Walmart Stores President and CEO for Asia Scott Price said in an interview to The Wall Street Journal.

“Two years would be a reasonable time frame in total,” he added.

Price, however, said the company has not yet decided where or how many stores it would like to have in India. But he said the company expects to continue in retail its current partnership with Bharti Enterprises in a chain of 17 cash and carry stores.

Walmart Stores Inc is not in discussions with any other company for a potential retail partnership at present, Mr. Price was quoted as saying in the report.

Mr. Price told WSJ that he was confident that the reform would be permanent and said the company is committed to India’s long-term future.

Showing resolve for reforms, the government yesterday notified its decision to allow global retail giants like Walmart to open stores in India.

With this notification, multinational retailers can invest up to 51 per cent to open stores in 10 states and UTs which, till date, have agreed to implement the decision.

The BJP was today evasive whether it would demand a floor test in Parliament to determine if the Manmohan Singh-led government enjoyed a majority following withdrawal of support to it by Trinamool Congress.

"Today is an important day for the nation as half a dozen ministers of the anti-common man UPA government are resigning from it. This government has become a burden on the common man and these resignations are paving the way for freeing the people from it," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

He described the resignation of the TMC ministers as a "good step and pro-people. BJP congratulates TMC for abandoning the sinking ship of the UPA government," Hussain said.

However, asked if BJP would demand that a special session of Parliament be convened and the government's strength be put to test, the main opposition was evasive.

"As a responsible opposition, we are at the moment keeping a keen eye on the developments taking place," Hussain said while insisting that with TMC withdrawing support the government does not enjoy a majority.

The BJP hit out at Samajwadi Party for acting as "oxygen" for the government which has "failed" to check price rise and has taken anti-people measures like allowing FDI in multi-brand retail and rationing of LPG.

"Samajwadi Party has taken to the streets, it has created the confusion of being with the opposition but is also supporting the government," Hussain said.

He charged that while SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav claims to support UPA to keep communal forces at bay, Uttar Pradesh under SP rule is the only state which is witnessing frequent communal riots.

A day after the government notified rules to permit FDI in retail, CPI(M) on Friday charged the ruling coalition with taking the “single biggest step” to destroy the livelihood of a large number of people.

“By this policy announcement, Manmohan Singh government has taken the single biggest step of destroying the livelihood of the largest number of people engaged in retail trade in India,” the CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.

The government has gone ahead with the move “notwithstanding the widespread opposition” to FDI in multi-brand retail trade, the party said, adding it would wage struggles “to get this anti-national decision rescinded”.

CPI(M) said the rules announced by the government were “designed to serve the interests of multinationals” like Wal-Mart, TESCO and Carrefour. The investment floor of $ 100 million or Rs 550 crore was “insignificant” for giant retailers like Wal-Mart which were multi-billion dollar firms.

The restriction that foreign retail outlets should be in cities with over 10 lakh population was also irrelevant because “these are precisely the urban centres which the MNCs want to access as they are the most lucrative segment of the market,” it said.

Furthermore, the rules provide that in states or Union Territories which do not have cities with a population of over 10 lakh, foreign retail outlets could be set up in cities of their choice, the party said.

“That the government is bent upon promoting FDI in retail at the cost of domestic interests is clear from the dilution of the conditions set for FDI in single-brand retail,” it said, adding that the rule for MNCs to mandatorily source 30 per cent of the value of products from small, village and cottage industries has been “diluted”.

In marginal relief to consumers, the government on Friday abolished import and excise duties on LPG cylinders they buy beyond the 6 per annum quota of subsidised cooking gas, and asked state governments to subsidise the requirements of households at their level.

The government had last week restricted supply of subsidised cooking gas to 6 per household in a year. Any requirement beyond this was to be purchased at market price, which currently works out to Rs. 895 per 14.2 kg cylinder.

After the abolition of 5 per cent customs duty and 8 per cent excise duty, the consumer price in Delhi would come to Rs. 798.

Subsidised cooking gas (LPG) in Delhi is currently sold at Rs. 399 a cylinder.

“Since some LPG cylinders will not be subsidised, we have amended the notification for the non-subsidised household LPG cylinders... customs and excise (on them) will be zero”, Mr. Chidambaram told reporters.

Non-subsidised commercial LPG cylinders, however, would continue to attract customs duty of 5 per cent and excise duty at 8 per cent.

Taking a cue from the Congress ruled states which have increased the number of subsidised cylinders to nine per year, the Minister asked other states to follow suit.

“I welcome the decision of certain state governments to subsidise three cylinders per year of LPG in addition to six cylinders for which the subsidy would be borne by the central government... I would commend all state governments to adopt such an approach”, he said.

The Minister also welcomed the decision of the Bihar government to reduce VAT on diesel from 18 per cent to 16 per cent which would neutralise some of the impact of the Rs. 5 price hike announced by the Centre last week.

Cautioning the government against roll back of diesel price hike, credit rating agency Moody’s, on Thursday, said that any such step would limit its subsidy reduction plan.

“If the government rolls back a part of the hike, as some coalition partners and members of the Opposition parties have demanded, the decline in subsidies will be smaller,” Moody’s said in its credit outlook report.

Battling huge fuel subsidy payout, the government last week raised the diesel prices, first since June, 2011, by Rs.5 a litre.

Moody’s statement comes on a day when the Opposition parties were observing nation-wide strike to protest against the price hike, and government’s move to operationalise its decision on allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

Moody’s said the price hike would lower the government’s subsidy burden by Rs.20,000 crore in the current fiscal to an estimated Rs.1.70 lakh crore.

“Still, the subsidy will be 23 per cent higher than the Rs.1.40 lakh crore for the previous fiscal,” it said.

Moody’s said since June, 2011, import parity prices, which are used as a reference to calculate the subsidies, had risen by nearly 25 per cent because of higher international diesel prices, and the depreciating rupee.

“But the near double-digit domestic inflation and the political consequences of pushing through unpopular reforms have kept the frequency of price hikes low,” it added.

Moody’s said the price hike was credit positive for oil marketing companies. “The initiatives are credit positive for state-owned oil refining and marketing companies, including IOC, and upstream oil companies, including ONGC,” he said.

The government usually distributes subsidies to state-owned oil refining and marketing companies with a lag of up to six months. In the interim, companies such as IOC need to raise money to cover the cost of the subsidy.

Major retailers gathered at the three-day World Retail Congress in London believe that despite restrictions in recent FDI announcements in India, there will be "tremendous interest" after its implementation.

Some, however, said they would prefer to wait-and-watch on these reforms.

Speakers at a special session focussed on India, welcomed India's decision on allowing 100% FDI in single brand and 51% in multi-brand retail.

There is a cautious optimism. An executive of a UK retailer said nobody was "rushing in" as of now.

Sarah Cordey, a senior official at retail major Tesco, told PTI: "Tesco welcomes this positive development but we await further detail."

"We already have a successful franchise arrangement with Tata's Star Bazaar stores and are hopeful that the development will allow more Indian consumers, businesses and communities to benefit from world-class retail investment," Cordey added.

Consultancy major Deloitte's Director of Global Economics Ira Kalish said: "Although the announcement comes with a number of restrictions the major the major retailers will take tremendous interest in these developments."

He added, "There is the potential that further liberalisation will really open up the market and retailers will be looking at partnerships and joint ventures to start preparing for this."Senior industry people from India present at the Congress said that the Manmohan Singh-led government's attempt to push through retail reform will succeed despite fierce opposition in some political circles.

Political Drama

New Delhi: 6.10 pm Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad Yadav has ruled out the possibility of a Third Front, saying there are only "a secular front" and "a communal front". According to him, the General Elections will take place on time.

5.40 pm Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari says that they are "waiting and watching" the situation.

"We do not intend to bring down the government. But the UPA has lost the confidence of the people," said Gadkari.

5.15 pm Trinamool Congress MP Mukul Roy says though his party does not want a vote of confidence, it does want a vote on the issue of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Talking to mediapersons, the former Railways minister said that the issue should be discussed in Parliament as most of the political parties are opposing it.

He further expressed hope that the Trinamool Congress would do better in the next election.

5.09 pm The Congress core group is slated to meet at 6 pm on Friday.

5.03 pm Trinamool Congress leaders submit a letter of the withdrawal of support to the UPA government to President Pranab Mukherjee.

Addressing mediapersons outside the Rashtrapati Bhawan, TMC leader Saugata Roy said that the President had accepted their letter of withdrawal of support.

He said, "We handed over the letter of withdrawal of support to the President, who has accepted it...we did not ask the President to ask the government to prove its majority on the floor of the House."

4.31 pm Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee issues a statement saying she has a personal history of of struggle and nothing can intimidate her.

The West Bengal Chief Minister further said, "I can withstand all forms of adversity. I can leave everything, but not my 'Ma, Maati, Maanush'. We are of the people, by the people, for the people."

4.22 pm Trinamool Congress leaders reach Rashtrapati Bhawan to officially withdraw support to the UPA government at the Centre.

4.15 pm Trinamool Congress ministers in the Centre have submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

According to sources, the Prime Minister told the TMC leaders, "Sorry, you had to tender resignations."

Trinamool Congress had six Union ministers. They were Railway Minister Mukul Roy (Cabinet rank) and other five ministers of state. The other ministers were: Minister of Urban Development Saugata Roy, Minister of Health and Family Welfare Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Choudhury Mohan Jatua, Minister of Tourism Sultan Ahmed and Minister of Rural Development Sisir Kumar Adhikari.

The Trinamool Congress leaders are now slated to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and officially withdraw their support to the UPA government at the Centre.

3.44 pm TMC ministers plan to stage dharna at Jantar Mantar on September 30.

3.43 pm: TMC leaders leave to meet PM at 7 RCR.

3: 10 pm: Future is ours: Sudeep Bandopadhyay.

3: 09 pm: There is no credibility left in the UPA government: TMC MP Sudeep Bandopadhyay.

2: 42 pm: Congress ministers in West Bengal to resign from the state Cabinet at 5 pm on Saturday.

1: 35 pm Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gives Trinamool Congress an appointment at 4 pm on Friday.

1:32 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy says they have an appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee at 4:30 pm.

1:15 pm: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will address the nation at 8 pm about the recent decisions on economic reforms.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has hinted at continuing giving outside support to the UPA saying he does not want 'communal forces' to come to power, giving the Manmohan Singh regime a reason to smile. The UPA government, which has been reduced to a minority after the Trinamool Congress decided to withdraw its support, can safely cross the half-way mark in the Lok Sabha with Samajwadi Party's support.

Mulayam indirectly made it clear that he won't support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "We are giving support to the Congress so as not to allow the communal forces to come to power," Mulayam said on Friday.

When asked about his reactions to the government's policies, Mulayam said he was against the government's policies, but wanted to keep 'criminal forces' at bay. "We are against the policies of Congress. We are not in UPA, but we support them to keep criminal forces away," Mulayam said.

The Congress is also finalising its strategy with the Trinamool Congress quitting the UPA. The Congress top brass, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, will meet on Friday evening to decide the future course of action.

A meeting of the Congress Core Group headed by Sonia Gandhi is scheduled in the evening amid reports that Trinamool Congress ministers will be sending their resignations during the day. This is the second meeting of the Congress core group which had met only two days back, a day after Mamata Banerjee announced the withdrawal of support.

Government managers are confident of the numbers even after the withdrawal of support by the 19-member Trinamool Congress, which has been the second largest constituent of the 15-party ruling alliance.

The Trinamool Congress has upped the attack on the Congress alleging that Congress may use the CBI to get BSP, SP support. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, TMC minister Saugata Roy claimed the UPA would use the CBI to ensure the support of the BSP and SP.

"We do not know where and how the government will manage its numbers. It is not our concern whether the CBI cases are used as an instrument or if there are other incentives. We do not know and we do not care. Our commitment is to the people. We shall oppose any anti-people step taken by the central government," Roy said.He also said that the Trinamool Congress was ready for mid-term elections.

However, the Congress remained undeterred. Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary said, "India comes first, we will die but we will finish our commitment to the country."

Revenue forgone

The amount of revenue foregone by the government due to tax exemptions more than doubled from Rs 65,587 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 1,38,921 crore in 2010-2011, a CAG report said today.

"We found that the revenue foregone on account of tax exemption has increased by 111.8 per cent from Rs 65,587 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 1,38,921 crore in 2010-2011," the report for the year ended March 2011 by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said.

The main objective of any tax system is to raise revenues necessary to fund government expenditure, it said adding the amount of revenue raised is determined to a large extent by tax base and tax rates.

"The revenue forgone (on account of tax exemption) in respect of corporate taxpayers increased by 73.6 per cent as compared to 226.6 per cent in respect of non-corporate taxpayers during 2006-07 to 2010-11," the report tabled in Parliament said.

During last five years, it said, direct tax collections have increased from Rs 2,30,181 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 4,46,934 crore in 2010-11, at an average annual
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