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Jaitley's speech peppered with digs at UPA rule

February 28, 2015 17:19 IST

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with the budget-eve halwa. Photograph: PIB on Twitter.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley peppered his speech with digs at the previous United Progressive Alliance regime and sprinkled it with interesting phrases taken out from Urdu poetry and religious scriptures as he presented his first full-fledged budget in Lok Sabha on Saturday.

He was wearing a light blue shirt, a black trouser and a deep-blue Nehru jacket for the much-watched occasion.

His sister Madhu Bharghava and neice Punita were among those watching from the visitors' gallery as Jaitley presented the Budget.

The 62-year-old spoke for nearly 100 minutes.

He started his speech while standing, which is customary.

However, after about 22 minutes, he felt uncomfortable and sat, with the permission of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

Jaitley has not been keeping too well since last few months and feels uncomfortable after standing for some time.

After around 20 minutes of his speech, the Speaker on her own asked Jaitley if he wanted to speak while sitting.

He thanked her and said he would seek her permission when he required it.

About two minutes later, he sought permission to sit.

As Speaker allowed him, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari vacated his seat to make way for him, shifting to the fourth row.

As Jaitley occupied Gadkari's seat to deliver his speech while seated, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen directing a staffer of Lok Sabha to shift his glass of water closer to the Finance Minister.

He was also provided with some juice.

Budget 2015: Complete Coverage

In his speech, Jaitley took digs at UPA's rule.      

"Kuch to phool khilaye humne, aur kuch phool khilane hai/Mushkil yeh hai bag me ab tak, kaante kai purane hai (We have blossomed some flowers and have to grow many more. But we are facing difficulty with some legacies)," he said in an apparent attack on the previous UPA government.

Among others seated in the Speaker's gallery were former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, lyricist Javed Akhtar, Trinamool Congress leaders Derek O'Brien and Mukul Roy.

As Jaitley rolled out a ‘roadmap for accelerating growth’ and plan for macro-economic stability, members in the treasury benches, including Prime Minister applauded him frequently by thumping the desks.

"This is the path which we will doggedly and relentlessly pursue. As the Prime Minister has often said, we are a round-the-clock, round-the-year government," he said, drawing laud applause from Modi and other top ministers, including Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and D V Sadananda Gowda.

When Jaitley spoke about Yoga and a proposal to bring it within the ambit of charitable activities under Section 2(15) of the Income-tax Act, the Prime Minister was seen thumping his desk with lot of enthusiasm.

A brief war of words between the Opposition and the treasury benches took place when Jaitley, while announcing additional outlay of Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, said it should bring cheer to Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

As Kharge rose to respond, some Bharatiya Janata Party members tried to shout him down, prompting him to retort that he was only responding to Jaitley's remarks.

As television cameras zoomed on, some members in the Opposition benches were caught napping.

While talking about the economy, he listed its weaknesses including the current account deficit inherited from the UPA government and elaborated on initiatives to spur growth.

"We inherited a sentiment of, if I may say so, doom and gloom, and the investor community had almost written us off.

“We have come a long way since then," Jaitley said.

He said people of India had voted resoundingly for quick change, faster growth and highest levels of transparency.

"They wanted the scam, scandal and corruption Raj to end," he said drawing some amount of criticism from the opposition.

Budget 2015: Complete Coverage

While some new schemes have been named after Pradhan Mantri, the Finance Minister also announced two schemes -- Atal Pension Yojana and Atal Innovation Mission -- in the name of BJP patriarch and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

As Jaitley announced reduction in corporate tax, it was greeted with jeers from the Opposition.

While the treasury benches were packed, some seats in the Opposition benches were vacant.

On several occasions, the Finance Minister deviated from the written text and explained issues in Hindi.

When he announced a scheme to protect nine heritage sites Churches and Convents of Old Goa, Hampi in Karnataka and Elephanta Caves in Mumbai, members of Parliament from Bihar and Tamil Nadu created noisy scenes demanding similar facilities for their states.

Before the proceedings began, Jaitley walked upto the Opposition benches to shake hands with leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikajurn Kharge and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

He also greeted Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and was seen talking to her.

As soon as Jaitley arrived, BJP veteran L K Advani patted him.

The Finance Minister concluded his address by identifying change, growth, jobs and genuine, effective uplift of the poor as major focus areas of the government.

He said the government's commitment to the daridra narayan was steadfast.

He said this commitment is driven by the constitutional principles of Equality and Justice for all, without concern for caste, creed or religion.

In this context he quoted the Upanishad ‘Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah. . . Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah. . . Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih (May all be happy, may all be free fromillness, may all see what is beneficial, may no one suffer).

Image: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with the budget-eve halwa. Photograph: Kind courtesy, PIB on Twitter.

Budget 2015: Complete Coverage

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