MP: All is well, says CM in populist budget | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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MP: All is well, says CM in populist budget

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan delivered a "populist" budget on Wednesday, ostensibly aimed at keeping his image as a people’s leader intact in the face of the opposition’s attempt to corner him in the PEB scam.

bhopal Updated: Feb 25, 2015 23:33 IST
Ranjan Srivastava

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan delivered a "populist" budget on Wednesday, ostensibly aimed at keeping his image as a people’s leader intact in the face of the opposition’s attempt to corner him in the PEB scam.

The budget presented by finance minister Jayant Malaiya cut taxes by more than half on a range of consumer goods, which is expected to benefit cross sections of the population.

Chouhan’s own bureaucrats admitted that the budget was populist in nature despite the fact that elections are far away and there are no signs of anti-incumbency creeping in. After leading the BJP to its third straight term in the 2013 assembly polls, Chouhan ensured 27 Lok Sabha seats out of the 29 in last year’s parliamentary polls.

The party’s victory in the recent civic body polls was indication of the fact that Chouhan was sitting pretty as the face of the BJP in the state. However, he has come under pressure in recent days after the Congress produced “evidence” of his alleged involvement in the all-encompassing PEB scam.

The imminent resignation of governor Ramnaresh Yadav after he was booked by the special task force for alleged involvement in the scam has only given the opposition Congress more cannon fodder.
Political observers HT spoke to said that even if the charges against him fall apart, the chief minister cannot escape moral responsibility for the scam as it took place under his watch.

“By giving something or the other to women, children, youth and poor through the populist budget, Chouhan has only tried to strengthen his position at the grassroots level,” a senior bureaucrat said.

Another senior government official said that “Chouhan came up with a populist budget to ensure that his image as a popular leader of the masses is not affected by the Opposition charges.”
According to officials, the reduction of taxes on as many as 53 items was unprecedented as such a large number of items didn’t see tax cuts even at the time of elections.

However, political analyst Girijashankar did not see any political statement in the budget and said it lacked economic and political vision. “The CM didn’t need a budget to bolster his image as STF has not found any concrete evidence against him or his family-members in the scam,” he said.

But for all practical purposes, Chouhan did not want to take a chance.