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Budget high on rhetoric, low on content: Congress

July 11, 2014 01:20 IST

The Congress feels there was no articulation of a bold vision of a statement of intent in the Budget, no articulation of a direction in which the economy has to go, and it lacks imagination. Renu Mittal reports.

“This could have been a UPA Budget”, was how former prime minister and Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh, the architect and initiator of the economic reform movement in the country, described the maiden budget of the Narendra Modi government.

Presented in less than two months after taking over the reigns of the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance’s first Budget is seen to be a continuation of the United Progressive Alliance government’s economic policies with minor tinkerings here and there.

There was a great deal of expectation from the first NDA Budget with corporates expecting big bang reforms, but there has been disappointment all around with the government failing to take any bold decisions in terms of taking forward the reform process as was expected.

The government limited itself only to announcing 49 per cent foreign direct investment in insurance and 49 per cent FDI in defence with the Congress expected to support these measures, which the party had earlier announced but failed to implement for lack of support.

Similarly, the former chief minister of Gujarat along with many other BJP state governments including Madhya Pradesh had vehemently opposed the Goods and Services Tax but now Narendra Modi has become a big votary of supporting GST.

Reacting to this turnaround Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said unlike the BJP which says one thing when in the opposition and another when in power, the Congress does not change its stand and sticks to what it has said.

Scindia said, “There was no articulation of a bold vision of a statement of intent, no articulation of a direction in which the economy has to go, and it lacks imagination. There is no reference to the price rise under which a common man is affected.”

He also said, “Inflation is a very important and sensitive issue. An amount of Rs 500 crore has been earmarked for Price Stabilisation Fund whereas we know in any of the APMC market, in any big cities, there is no single transaction which is below Rs 1,000 crore, with Rs. 500 crore even a start cannot be made."

The Congress said that the Budget disappoints rather than enthuses and the people have been shortchanged since a great deal of promises were made but they find no reflection in the Budget.

Scindia said that the Budget is seen as the unveiling of the NDA’s economic vision and the blueprint of the country’s aspirations, expectations which are attached to it. But, he said, the maiden budget was high on rhetoric and low on content as it has not articulated the vision of the NDA and lacks in imagination.

The Budget certainly does not lay out a blueprint for ushering in the “achche din” which was the slogan on which Narendra Modi rode to power. There are no details on how the government will combat or cut corruption or price rise, which were the two main issues on which the BJP rode to power, winning an absolute majority and in the process decimating the Congress to just 44 seats.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi