Opposition parties criticised the Narendra Modi government’s first full-year budget on Saturday, saying it favoured industrialists and failed to take care of the common man’s interests.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley attempted to juggle welfare spending with high economic growth and infrastructure development but could not win over the Congress, as party president Sonia Gandhi called the budget “pro-corporate”.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the budget reflected a lot of “good intentions” but lacked any clear roadmap to achieve the goals set and made inadequate allocations for the rural poor who make up 70% of the population.
Jaitley’s predecessor P Chidambaram pulled no punches, as he explained how the budget leaned towards the industry, failed to acknowledge the poor, reduced plan expenditure and carried out “cruel and unjust cuts” in sectors that look up to the government for succour.
“This budget has been unkind to the poor is the kindest thing I can say about it,” he said.
Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh said the budget was an attempt to pay back the private sector that supported the BJP during the Lok Sabha elections.
Former environment minister Ramesh said the budget was a “dhan wapsi” programme, punning on the “ghar wapsi”, or religious conversion, campaign being run by some Hindu groups. “You (BJP) had taken (money) in elections. You are paying back,” he said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said the budget was aimed at helping industrialists. “It has been made keeping in mind only rich and big capitalists. It is not in the interests of the common man,” she said.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), however, was divided in its assessment. Party MP Bhartruhari Mahtab called the budget proposals disappointing as they did not do much for the farmers. But he was contradicted by BJD colleague Jay Panda, who cheered Jaitley for the “big bang” budget that will “encourage the economy and boost the prospects of industry and manufacturing”.
West Bengal finance minister and Trinamool leader Amit Mitra said Jaitley made a big public display of giving more resources to the states with one hand, but concealed the other hand that took away a lot.
“Allocations to most of the central-sponsored schemes that are targeted towards the poor have been drastically reduced,” he said in Kolkata.