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Sitharaman delivers 2.17 hr-long Budget speech, earns praises

Last updated on: July 05, 2019 21:30 IST

Nirmala Sitharaman, the country's first full-time woman finance minister, on Friday delivered one of the longest Budget speeches which was peppered with Urdu, Hindi and Tamil couplets.

IMAGE: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget 2019-20 in the Lok Sabha at Parliament. Photograph: LSTV/PTI Photo

All through her 2 hours 17 minutes long maiden budget presentation, Sitharaman did not pause to have a sip of water.

The budget proposals were welcomed with frequent thumping of desks by the treasury benches with Prime Minister Narendra Modi too joining the members.

 

Speaker Om Birla also lauded Sitharaman for her presentation of the budget as the country's first full-time woman finance minister.

As the finance minister walked into Lok Sabha just before 10:55 am and took her seat, several women MPs walked up to her, wishing her good luck before the speech.

After the pleasantries, a confident Sitharaman took her seat and adjusted the mike.

She also greeted her parents Savithri and Narayanan Sitharaman and her journalist daughter Vangmayi Parkala, who were sitting in the gallery.

IMAGE: Parliamentarians listen on as Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Budget. Photograph: / Rediff.com

A native of Tamil Nadu, Sitharaman received the longest applause when she made certain announcements on rural artisans in Hindi.

Her speech was laced with Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit and even Tamil verses. In fact, she started out with an Urdu couplet from poet Manzoor Hashmi.

"Yakeen ho to koi rasta niklta hai, hawa ki ot bhi le kar chirag jalta hai," she said.

The couplet means that if you are determined, you can find a way notwithstanding the adversities.

She also read out a line from Pura Nanooru, a Tamil Sangam Era work by Pisirandaiyaar.

Her recitation won praise by most of the MPs from Tamil Nadu, including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran.

Sitharamana also cited Chanakyaneeti and quoted Swami Vivekananda.

There was hardly any thumping of desk, both from the treasury as well as the opposition side, when Sitharaman announced the move to levy 2 per cent TDS on cash withdrawal exceeding Rs 1 crore in a year from a bank account.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi thumps his desk as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget. Photograph: LSTV/PTI Photo

The move, Sitharaman said, was to to discourage the practice of making business payments in cash.

While the treasury benches were full, several seats in the Opposition remained vacant. The significant absentees included the father-son duo of Mulayam and Akhilesh Singh Yadav.

The gallery reserved for Rajya Sabha was almost full.

Among those present from the Upper House in the gallery were D Raja, Kumar Ketkar, Narendra Jadhav, K Alphons, Majeed Memon and Swapan Dasgupta.

A few foreign dignitaries were seen in the visitors' gallery.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who arrived in the House a couple of minutes after Sitharaman started her budget speech, was seen frequently checking his phone.

His mother and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi was sitting next to him in the front row and left a few minutes before the budget speech concluded.

IMAGE: Congress's Rahul Gandhi and mother Sonia Gandhi listen to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as she presents the Union Budget. Photograph: LSTV/PTI Photo

The husband-wife duo of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun Gandhi, actress and Mathura MP Hema Malini and her stepson Sunny Deol were among the members present in the House.

Lok Janshakti Party leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag were also present.

Sons of three Congress leaders Karti Chidambaram, Nakul Nath and Gaurav Gogoi were seen sitting together in the House.

Did you know?

>> The first Indian budget ever was presented by James Wilson, a Scottish economist and politician. He did so as a ‘Finance Member of the India Council’. He was reportedly tasked with establishing a new tax structure in India as well as a new paper currency

>> In 2003, then Finance Minister Jaswant Singh gave a marathon Budget speech, clocking in at 2 hours and 13 minutes.

>> Manmohan Singh's Budget Speech in 1991 was the one with the most words -- 18,364 words. Only Jaitley in his 2014-15 budget speech came close to this record at 16,552 words

>> Morarji Desai delivered the most amount of budgets -- 10 while Chidambaram has eight budgets under his belt

-- BUDGET 2019

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