The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday hailed the Union Budget as an "all-inclusive" document which reflects Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "farsighted" leadership to make a new India, while the Opposition dismissed it as "anti-people" and mere rhetoric lacking the vision for creating jobs and taming inflation.
In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman raised the personal income tax rebate limit, doled out sops on small savings and announced one of the biggest hikes in capital spending in the past decade as she walked a tight rope between staying fiscally prudent and meeting public expectations.
The Budget proposals also triggered an amrit kaal versus mitra kaal debate between the BJP and the Opposition, with the PM saying it provides a strong base to fulfil the dreams of an aspirational society, including the poor and the middle class, and Rahul Gandhi claiming it takes care only of the rich.
Modi described the Union Budget as "historic", saying the first budget in amrit kaal has established a strong base to fulfil the resolve of a developed India. He said that in order to empower the middle class, the government has taken many significant decisions in past years that have ensured ease of living.
"This year's Budget infuses new energy to India's development trajectory," Modi said in a tweet.
The BJP often describes the period between the country's 75th year of independence in 2022 to the 100th in 2047 year as amrit kaal.
BJP president JP Nadda said the first general budget of India's 'Amrit Kaal' is a public welfare and pro-poor document which will empower and uplift villagers, Dalits, tribals, farmers, backward and the oppressed classes.
"It is a blueprint for India's rapid growth and development which will ensure holistic progress of the country."
Former BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the "all-inclusive and visionary" Budget and will give further impetus to the Modi government's resolve for building a self-reliant India.
It reflects the foresight of the Modi government to build a new India with strong infrastructure and a strong economy, he said.
Senior party leader and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the Union Budget is expected to bring about positive changes in the country that will lead people towards achieving the goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy and be among the 'top three' economies within the next few years.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been accusing PM Modi of making policies to benefit his "friends", slammed the government, claiming the 'mitra kaal' budget has no vision to create jobs or tackle inflation.
"'Mitr Kaal' Budget has: NO vision to create Jobs. NO plan to tackle Mehngai. NO intent to stem Inequality. 1% richest own 40% of the wealth, 50% poorest pay 64% of GST, 42% youth are unemployed -- yet, PM doesn't Care!" Gandhi said in a tweet.
"This Budget proves Govt has NO roadmap to build India's future," he said.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged the budget was "big on announcements and short on delivery", and accused the BJP government of making the life of common man difficult.
Alleging the Modi government has "looted" the country by raising prices of flour, pulses, milk and cooking gas, he claimed the budget is a proof that people are "continuously losing faith in the BJP".
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram termed the budget "callous" and said Sitharaman did not mention the words unemployment, poverty, inequality or equity anywhere in her speech
"Mercifully, she has mentioned the word poor twice in her speech. I am sure the people of India will take note of who are in the concerns of the government and who are not," the former finance minister said.
Congress leader Kamal Nath termed the Budget a cover-up of unfulfilled old promises by "jumlas" (rhetoric). "We expected the FM will throw light on the announcements that were to be completed in 2022."
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Budget will deprive the poor. "It is not futuristic, totally opportunistic, anti-people and anti-poor... It has been prepared with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections."
The Communist Party of India-Marxist said the Union budget was "contractionary" and "anti-people".
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the relation between the Centre and states are going to get further strained and that fiscal federalism is now under "severe attack".
"States cannot raise resources after GST. They are not allowed to borrow under the new conditionalities. So you have reduced the states to coming to the Centre with a begging bowl."
"Then you have what has been announced for Karnataka now, a huge allocation for them. It is very clear where there is BJP, state governments get benefits and non-BJP government states get squeezed. Thus, this will lead to a great strain in our polity," Yechury said.
Other regional parties such as the DMK and the Shiv Sena faction headed by Uddhav Thackeray termed the budget disappointing and accused the Centre of taking away states' resources.
Rajya Sabha member Priyanka Chaturvedi, who represents the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of Shiv Sena, accused the Modi government of not making adequate allocations in the budget towards education and health infrastructure in states.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the Budget has brought people "nirasha" (despair) instead of "asha" (hope), and will only benefit the rich.
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said it would be better if the Budget is for the country rather than for the party.