06 Mar 2010
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The forthcoming polls to the Local Self-Government institutions has acted as a catalyst for the 2010-11 budget presented by Finance Minister Thomas Isaac.
The fact that 50 percent of seats in local bodies has been reserved for women in the election was evident in Isaac’s budget speech.
A slew of promises, ranging from rest rooms at bus stands to allocation of Rs 620 crore of the plan fund for women-friendly schemes, has been offered by Isaac as part of a strategy planned by the CPM.
The election to panchayats and municipalities will take place in August-September. Since 50 percent of seats has been reserved for women, their vote will prove crucial in the election.
The populist measures announced in the budget, including rice at Rs 2/kg, health insurance for more people and a hike of welfare pensions to Rs 300, clearly indicate that the LDF has formally launched its election campaign with the budget.
Politics had been an important ingredient of the two-and-aquarter- hour-long speech by Isaac. He touched the ASEAN free trade agreement and the illeffects of globalisation during the speech.
“One thing is clear. ASEAN countries can enter the national markets and seriously affect the cash crops of the state. This would destroy the state’s agriculture sector and bring back the dark era of farmer suicides,’’ said Isaac.
In the speech, the Finance Minister demanded a special package for Kerala to compensate the loss suffered due to the ASEAN agreement.
Even the measures suggested by the Minister for mobilising extra revenue are not harmful to the general public. When Pranab Mukherjee taxed petrol and diesel for making easy money, Isaac has decided to tax liquor for that.
Again, a move that will get applause from women voters.
After the serious setback suffered by the CPM in the last Lok Sabha polls, the party has been looking for an appropriate platform for launching its campaign for the next election. Thomas Isaac, through this budget, has gifted the party one.