BJP forced to acknowledge economic slowdown in the country

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While the BJP has publicly ratcheted up heat against CAA-NPR-NRC protests with an eye on Delhi elections, several responsible functionaries within the party and the government privately acknowledge economic slowdown as the real concern.

“The biggest fear is if growth doesn’t pick up, it will spill onto the streets. What currently looks as disaffection in some campuses may spread further,” said a senior government functionary suggesting that it has been flagged with the Budget-making team.

Sources said a Cabinet minister had flagged the risks of campus protests and drawn the attention of the government during one of the Cabinet meetings few weeks ago.

“The CAA-NPR-NRC protests have not eroded a single vote from our support base. Neither do these protests add an extra vote to opposition ranks. So, we are not politically hassled by these protests. The real issue of concern is that of the economy,” said a senior BJP leader. The saving grace, he said, was the opposition’s lack of organisation to mobilise popular opinion on this issue.

This BJP leader’s assessment is endorsed by another senior BJP leader. “Bhai saheb, chint ki baat sirf arthvyavastha hai. Baki sab manageable hai,” he said, reminding that it was the economy that called for urgent attention.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led party has recommended adjusting rules on taxing equity market returns in the upcoming budget on February 1, which if accepted, could attract more capital inflows into the stock markets, a senior party leader said.Financial market participants have been lobbying for scrapping long term capital gains tax (LTCG) on investment in equity or equity-oriented funds or extending the holding period from the current one year to two years with nil tax.

India charges 15% short-term capital gains tax if equity shares are sold within a year and at 10% if sold after a year.Another demand has been for an amendment to dividend distribution tax (DDT) rules.

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