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Budget a 'big jumla' of Modi govt: Oppn

Last updated on: February 01, 2018 22:50 IST

The opposition has attacked the Modi government over the National Democratic Alliance's last full-fledged budget before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Here are some of the reactions.

 

Budget is defeatist, a big letdown: Congress

Terming Budget 2018-19 'defeatist' and a 'big letdown', the Congress on Thursday said the government has 'thrown in the towel' and conceded that it has failed to address key issues in the economy.

The budget proposals should have been 'bold and radical', senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said.

"It is a defeatist budget. I think they have thrown in the towel. It is a budget of a government which has conceded that it has failed to address key issues in the economy... Unfortunately, the budget proposals are a big letdown," Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi.

Chidambaram also picked holes in the government's budgetary promise of providing insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore poor families and said it was a 'big jumla' (gimmick).

"The finance minister fails the fiscal consolidation test and this failure will have serious consequences," Chidambaram had told PTI earlier in the day, soon after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley completed his budget speech.

The Centre today announced the world's largest government funded health care programme, aimed at benefiting 10 crore poor families by providing coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

The National Health Protection Scheme, announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget for 2018-19, will cover approximately 50 crore people.

Describing the budget as a 'disappointment', Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh alleged that it had 'failed' to address most of the issues raised by the state at the pre-budget meeting.

The budget, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament, did not have any mention of farm debt waiver, making it clear that the Centre did not recognise the distress of farmers in Punjab, he claimed.

"It also failed to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission," the chief minister said in a statement.

He dismissed the Budget 2018-19 as 'non-visionary and anti-farmer'.

Govt has presented an election budget: Shiv Sena

Keeping in mind the Lok Sabha polls due next year, the Centre has presented an 'election budget' and it had to take 'desperate measures' following criticism over the goods and services tax, note ban and the Gujarat polls results, Shiv Sena leaders said on Thursday.

"This is a budget for the election. Hence, the focus has been shifted from industries to farmers, healthcare and education," Sena MP Arvind Sawant said.

He added that the Sena had aggressively been demanding that farmers, who had lost their produce due to climate change, be compensated and their loans waived.

"I have personally been pursuing the cause of quality education and healthcare for the masses, which the government has realised only now," Sawant said.

Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande claimed that the Centre had taken 'desperate' measures, following criticism over the goods and services tax rollout, demonetisation and the BJP's reduced numbers in the Gujarat assembly polls.

"It seems like an election budget that tries to please everybody. The government had faced flak over GST and note ban and after the Gujarat polls, where the BJP barely managed to scrape through, it had to take desperate measures," she said.

Kayande further said that while the Centre talked about a decreasing inflation, it should tell the country the reasons behind the 'all-time high' fuel prices.

"Similarly, millions of people are attached to the banking sector. However, the bank service charges are only increasing. Where is the relief for the common man? Where should the common man invest?" she asked.

Kayande also said that the women were hoping for a reduction in the GST rates on sanitary napkins, but that did not happen.

Union budget anti-poor, pro-capitalists: Mayawati

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati has dubbed the Union Budget presented in Parliament today as anti-poor and pro-capitalists.

In a statement issued, she said like the previous budgets of the Narendra Modi government, this one was also "anti-poor and pro-capitalists".

"What happened to Modi's promise of 'achchey din' he had made before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014?" she asked.

Mayawati also accused the prime minister of making "misleading speeches and claims".

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government has cared a fig for the poor, the labourers, the farmers and the working class as a result of which unemployment is rising and the chasm between the rich and the poor widening, she claimed.

Budget contains nothing for Bihar, farmers : Tejashwi

The Rashtriya Janata Dal alleged that there was 'nothing' for Bihar in the union budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and squarely blamed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the alleged 'step-motherly treatment' meted out by the Centre.

'The budget contained nothing for Bihar. The state got nothing despite promises of a special package and a special status. Nitish Kumar should tell us whether this is the double engine for him. It is because of him that the Centre is meting out step-motherly treatment to Bihar,' RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said in a tweet.

The criticism of Kumar by Yadav, who is leader of the opposition in the state assembly, came against the backdrop of the latter having last year walked out of the Grand Alliance and rejoined the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance claiming that the decision was taken in the interests of Bihar.

The 'double engine' idiom was used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2015 assembly polls in the state, which RJD and Kumar's Janata Dal-United had fought in alliance.

Modi had said that the state must have the same party -- the BJP -- in power at the Centre as well as in Bihar for rapid development.

The idiom has of late been repeatedly used by the young RJD leader, who was formerly Kumar's deputy, for taking potshots at the chief minister whose exit from 'Mahagathbandhan' followed corruption cases against Yadav.

In another tweet, Yadav alleged that the budget was 'a fraud' against farmers.

"Minimum support price for wheat is Rs 1600 per quintal but farmers still have to sell their produce for Rs 1,300 per quintal ... you can not decide the farmers' fate sitting in airconditioned cabins".

The RJD leader also said, 'If the government is really concerned about farmers, why does it not waive their loans. Such a measure too would lead to a rise in their incomes.'

'The country's capitalists have non-performing assets worth Rs 10 lakh crore. But the BJP government finds it hard to waive farmers' loans worth a few thousand crores,' Yadav said in another tweet.

Government trying to hoodwink people, has polls on its mind: Left

The Left parties called the budget a 'big jumla' of the government which has elections on its mind.

"This budget, being the last one for this government, clearly shows it is announcing the schemes keeping in mind the coming Lok Sabha polls.

"It is a campaign for them. We consider it as a 'big jumla'. We think it is an election campaign as talks are going on for early elections," Communist party of Inida-Marxist Lok Sabha leader Mohammed Salim told reporters.

Communist Party of India leader D Raja said the Union budget shows the 'desperate attempts of the government to hoodwink the people' in 2018, in which several state polls will take place and 'probably the Lok Sabha polls too'.

"It is not a growth-oriented budget. There is no certain attempts for employment generation. The government has talked about doubling the farmer's income, but for that the agricultural growth should increase up to 12 per cent. That is not there," Raja said.

The CPI-M said though the government has announced various schemes, but just like the previous budget, no specific details of their implementation have been given.

They pointed out that the government in its budget for 2018-19 has not announced any scheme for minorities, nor has it given any serious thought about gender budgeting.

"Even scheduled castes and tribes have lost their priority in government schemes," Salim said.

The Left leaders alleged that the government has been completely silent on the key issue of unemployment and has not provided any solution for permanent employment generation.

"Everybody cannot fry 'pakodas'. There is a serious distortion between employment and investment," Salim said, taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He was referring to Modi's recent remarks that 'pakoda' seller earning Rs 200 a day should also be considered employed.

Budget disappointing; to spur inflation, hurt common man: NCP

The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party described the Union budget as "disappointing" and claimed that it would increase inflation and hurt the common man.

"The budget proposals will pinch the pocket of the common man," party spokesman Nawab Malik said.

"The (Narendra) Modi government is running away from the basic responsibility of providing health services and is handing over the sector to the insurance companies," he added.

Ridiculing the budget proposal to increase farmers' income, Malik said, "Even the minimum support price announced earlier was not paid to the farmers. This is nothing but a 'jumla' (gimmick) budget."

The NCP leader also criticised the BJP-led government for initiating strategic disinvestment in 24 public sector undertakings, including Air India, by setting Rs 80,000 crore as the disinvestment target for 2018-19.

"This budget has been tabled to sell off government resources to private companies," he alleged.

Budget negative, super flop show, anti-people: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dismissed the budget as 'negative and a super flop show' and said the 'anti-people' BJP government is not fit for governance.

"I am disheartened with the union budget. This is a hopeless, negative and super flop budget. It is a big bluff budget. I think this anti-people BJP government is not fit for governance," she told reporters in Kolkata.

She said the country's middle class is completely disheartened with the budget as it has nothing to offer for them.

"We heard that they (the central government) would take some measures to appease the people. But it has nothing to offer except disinvestment," she said.

Banerjee said the Budget does not spell out the direction on employment generation and has cut allocation on various other social schemes.

"Small scale and medium industries have been badly hit due to demonetisation and GST. We have been saying this from the very first day," she added.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien termed the budget as 'super flop' and a 'dying declaration' of a government whose 'time is up'.

"It is a super flop, a big bluff show. This Budget is the dying declaration of a government whose time is up," the TMC leader said.

Kejriwal accuses Centre of step-motherly treatment

Expressing disappointment over the General Budget, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the Centre was "continuing" with its "step-motherly" treatment to Delhi.

Kejriwal said he had expected some financial assistance for important infrastructure projects for the national capital. His deputy Manish Sisodia also expressed unhappiness over Delhi's share in central taxes and duties remaining unchanged, saying the BJP-led Centre treats Delhi residents as "second-grade citizens".

Sisodia said that no plans or schemes have been announced for Delhi Police while the AAP government's demand for special package for 2,000 electric buses to combat air pollution has also not been addressed.

He said that land in Delhi comes under the Centre, but despite this, no plans have been announced for regularisation of unauthorised colonies and giving more land to Delhi government to build clinics, schools, hospitals and bus depots.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government has been demanding that the share in central taxes and duties for the city should be increased.

"I had expected some financial assistance to important infrastructure projects for the nation national capital. Am disappointed that the Centre continues its step-motherly treatment to Delhi," Kejriwal tweeted.

Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio, hit out at the central government, saying it does not care for Delhi.

"Disappointing #Budget2018. Not a single extra rupee increased in Delhi’s share in Central taxes since 2001-02, stays at Rs 325 Cr. No other part of India gets such treatment (sic)," he said in a series of tweets.

'Delhi police comes under Centre. Yet no plans or schemes announced to tackle crime and issues of women safety that have made Delhi the crime capital of India. Highly disappointing #Budget2018! (sic).'

According to the government, Delhi's share in central taxes has been kept at Rs 325 crore, static since 2001-02.

Promise to hike MSP another 'jumla': Yogendra Yadav

Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said the government's promise to give farmers at least 50 per cent higher support price than their cost of production for the upcoming Kharif crops was another 'jumla'.

Yadav said the budget proposals showed the government's lack of concern towards farmers.

"The government's promise on delivering 50 per cent more on the cost of production is a jumla again," Yadav said.

The Swaraj India leader, who has been undertaking tours across India to interact with farmers, claimed the government has been 'forced' to take up the issue of prices for farmers.

There were 'no concrete measures and commitments' made to farmers to pull them out of the crisis they are in, he said.

"The government has shown that they don't care for the suffering of the farmers. It demonstrates a clear lack of political will. They think they can win elections without addressing real concerns of the farmers," Yadav added.

Budget a 'jugglery of numbers': Yashwant Sinha

Former Union finance minister and disgruntled BJP leader Yashwant Sinha termed the budget 'jugglery of numbers' and said the government lost an opportunity to provide relief to the poor and the middle class.

Sinha, who was in Narsinghpur to participate in a farmers' agitation, told reporters the budget had no schemes for the welfare of farmers.

It was expected that an election-year budget would bring good news for agriculture and the rural sector, but the one presented by Arun Jaitley today was disappointing, he said.

Though the budget talks about providing 1.5 times the production cost as minimum support price (MSP) for Rabi crops, it provided no deadline and no allocation was made, he pointed out.

Sinha said the government was simply practising financial engineering.

On the health protection scheme announced in the budget, the former Union minister said the government did not spell out how it would be funded and implemented.

Instead of the common man, big companies have got tax exemptions, he noted.

IMAGE: People watch a live telecast of Union Budget 2018-19 session being presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Photograph: PTI Photo 

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