The main Opposition parties in Assam -- Asom Gana Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party and All India United Democratic Front -- have come down heavily on the Congress government in Assam for presenting an ‘election-oriented populist’ interim budget for the year 2014-15.
The opposition parties were especially harsh in criticising Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who also holds the finance portfolio, for announcing cash gifts to BPL people in the state during the next spring festival (Bohag Bihu) in mid-April, before the next general election.
AGP president and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said, “The interim budget promising cash gifts is a reflection of Congress’ strategy to win votes by luring gullible voters using government money in the next Lok Sabha polls. Gogoi has legitimised the politics of providing sops with government fund for winning polls.”
State BJP General Secretary Santanu Bharali said, “The budget will do no good to the people of the state except helping the Congress lure voters.”
BJP MLA Prasanta Phukon said, “It is not an interim budget but a promise to provide money and sops to people for voting for the Congress in the general election. It is a document for barter system -- money for vote.”
The AIUDF legislature party leader Sirajuddin Ajmal said, “The government has promised lollipop to the people of Assam. It is hardly a budget but an estimate of the amount required for buying votes during the Lok Sabha polls.”
Gogoi, however, said he was grateful to the people of Assam for making him the chief minister for three consecutive terms and he would become the longest serving chief minister in the state by next Bohag Bihu. He said the sops were a way of saying thanks to the people of Assam.