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Bjp Supports Pranab?s Decisions As Finance Minister

RELATED NEW DELHI: There seems to be no let up in the show of BJP's sympathy for President Pranab Mukherjee in view of the suggestion from certain quarters that some of the decisions he took as finance minister between 2009 and 20011 contributed to the worsening of the fiscal deficit. BJP leaders on Friday expressed First Financial solidarity with the President in view of what they called "unfair insinuation" that his decisions worsened the fiscal deficit, when they called upon him in connection with their demand for early polls. Sources in the BJP said the expression of support led Mukherjee to say that the fiscal expansion being ascribed to him, in fact, predated his tenure in the finance ministry, adding that former finance minister Yashwant Sinha would bear him out. The BJP delegation, comprising party veteran L K Advani, leaders of opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and former party chief M Venkaiah Naidu, Sinha and others, broached the topic soon after the principal opposition had taken up cudgels for the President in Rajya Sabha. Coming out in support of the President, Jaitley had objected to the blame for the jump in fiscal deficit being heaped upon those "who are not here to defend themselves", stressing that the gap between government's spending and income started widening in 2007 when the government launched schemes as part of Congress's preparations for 2009 polls. On Friday, former finance minister Sinha strongly supported the President's purported contention that the expansion of fiscal deficit was a reality before he took charge of the finance ministry. Recalling that Mukherjee moved into the finance ministry on January 24, 2009, Sinha stressed that the two supplementary demands - in October and January 2008 had resulted in a net cash outgo of Rs 147,000 crore.

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