Ahead of the budget session beginning next week, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will hold consultations with senior party leaders tomorrow at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi. With Assembly elections scheduled in five states including West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamilnadu and Puduchery this year rising prices particularly of food items and vegetables, has been a worrying factor for the party.

Congress leaders are expected to come up with their wish lists during their meeting with Mukherjee at the AICC headquarters, which is expected to be attended by all party general secretaries as well as other senior leaders.

The Finance Minister, who has interacted with several interest groups including the industry so far, will be seeking suggestions from Congress leaders on how to make the Budget to be presented on Feb 28, an instrument to take forward the party’s policies and programmes.

Since the Congress came to power at the Centre via the UPA mode in 2004, Finance Ministers have been interacting with party leaders ahead of the Budget.

Experts say inflation, Current Account Deficit, pressure for lowering down the import duty, providing level playing field to the domestic industries and increasing the government revenue are some of the problems being faced by the government ahead of the Budgetary exercise.

However, there has been some good news for the government on the front of inflation this month.

Driven by declining prices of sugar and wheat, the overall inflation eased marginally to 8.23 per cent in January even as the prices of vegetables and fruits continued to remain firm.

Encouraged by the 0.20 percentage point fall in inflation over 8.43 per cent in December, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said it would come down to 7 per cent by the end of the fiscal.

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