Describing the Union Budget as 'insipid' and one that is 'all talk and nothing concrete', Opposition parties on Saturday said it does not address the key issue of unemployment or suggest ways to fuel investment to spur economic growth.
While the Congress alleged that the reduction in tax rates did not help the salaried class who have to pay more under the new slabs, the Left parties said it is a 'budget of privatisation' and accused the government of abdicating its responsibilities.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said the budget speech was 'too long' and Trinamool Congress alleged that the government was lying on tax cuts and one should read the fine print on the so-called income tax cuts, as government has removes incentives.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the budget offered no strategic idea or anything concrete and left the issue of unemployment unaddressed, while former finance minister P Chidambaram gave it a score of zero to one out of 10 and asserted that the Modi government has given up on reviving the economy, accelerating growth or creating jobs.
"The main issues confronting this country today are unemployment and the situation as far as the economy is concerned. I did not see any concrete idea, any strategic idea that would help our youngsters get jobs. I saw a lot of tactical stuff, redundant things, I did not see any central idea," Gandhi told reporters.
"I did not find any strategic thing in it. The main issue is employment and economy. There is redundancy and income tax has been complicated instead.
"The government's approach is visible in this budget. It did not have anything in it. It was hollow," he said.
Gandhi said the budget describes the government quite well, which is of 'all talking' and nothing concrete.
"A lot of repetition, a lot of rambling, nothing concrete. So it is the mindset of the government - all talk, all talk, all talk, nothing happening. But, the country is, of course, is suffering," he said.
Congress leader and senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said the 'budget is insipid, lacking in stimulus for growth' and has no clear roadmap for job creation.
The party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the new tax slab for salaried people is 'simply 'labyrinth' to mislead people'.
"Actually, under the new tax slab, people will have to pay more tax than in the old tax slab," he claimed.
At the opposition party's press conference, Chidambaram said the government's claim of 6 to 6.5 per cent growth next year is 'astonishing and even irresponsible'.
Asked what rating he would give to the budget on a scale of 1 to 10, he took a dig, saying '10 has got a 1 and 0, you can pick either of a number. I am okay with it'.
He accused the government of being in 'complete denial' about the economy facing a 'grave macro economic challenge' and there's nothing in the Budget that leads one to believe that growth will revive in 2020-21.
"It was a laundry list of old (that is current) programmes," he said.
If the ongoing programmes have failed the people, how can throwing more money into the ongoing programmes change anything, he asked.
"The government has given up on reviving the economy or accelerating the growth rate or promoting private investment or increasing efficiency or creating jobs or winning a greater share of world trade," he said.
The Indian economy is demand-constrained and investment-starved, and the finance minister has not acknowledged these two challenges, and 'that is a pity', he said.
He asked how one could call it a budget about caring the society when food and fertilisers subsidies have been reduced.
"I think this talk about caring society is more words than deeds. Once we drill into the numbers, we will know how caring they are or how uncaring they are."
Slamming the budget's proposal to sell a part of the government's share in Life Insurance Corporation, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee on Saturday described it as a plan to 'ambush' the legacy of public institutions.
'I am shocked and appalled to see how the central government plans to ambush the heritage and legacy of public institutions. It's the end of sense of security. Is it also an end of an era?' the CM tweeted.
Communist Party of India-Marxist's Sitaram Yechury criticised the budget, saying it did nothing to alleviate 'people's miseries'.
"The less you have to say longer will be the speech. The budget has completely failed to address the current economic slowdown. It does not have a road map on how the economy can be turned around," he said.
"Just platitudes and slogans. Nothing substantial to alleviate peoples' misery, the growing unemployment, rural wage crash, farmers' distress suicides and galloping prices," he said.
CPI general secretary, D Raja said that said that the Union Budget was a budget exposed how the government is abdicating all its responsibilities by privatising public assets.
"This budget is a budget for privatization and everything is to be done using PPP route including railways, health and infrastructure," he said.
"No hope to be seen in the budget for the millions of unemployed youth of the country," he said.
The All India Forward Bloc said that the budget was "an offer to sell India" and said it includes large scale privatization and disinvestment of national assets.
Opposition leader Sharad Yadav said the economic growth is at a low of 4.5 per cent and the issue of unemployment has become grave but the budget offers nothing to tackle these problems.
It does not touch on the issues like farmer suicides, poverty, rising inflation, cases of bank frauds, he said, demanding that Sitharaman should 'apologise' for 'ruining' the economy.