Election-bound Maharashtra got Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s special attention in the general budget along with West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the states where the ruling alliance pulled off major upsets to return to power.
Mukherjee in his budget speech announced a six-month extension for farmers to repay 75 per cent of their arrears, while the remaining amount would be waived off.
“Due to late arrival of monsoon, I propose to extend this period by six months up to 31st December,” he said.
The loan waiver, first announced in February 2008, worked to the advantage of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance in the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra.
Turning to his own state, West Bengal, Mukherjee announced a special grant of Rs 1,000 crore for reconstruction efforts in areas of the state damaged by cyclone Aila.
A demand that had been raised by both the Left and Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Tamil Nadu also received its share, when Mukherjee announced a Rs 500 crore allocation “for the rehabilitation of internally displaced people, and reconstruction of northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka.”
The announcement was promptly welcomed by an upbeat Chief Minister M Karunandidhi, who had outsmarted his rivals in the recent Lok Sabha polls.
Mukherjee also announced setting-up of a handloom cluster each in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, which would help weavers avail special benefits from the central government.
While the opposition leaders termed the announcements as a mere gimmicks, analysts are of the view that any relief for the people should be welcomed.
“What is wrong in it? If a particular region is being taken care of even for electoral reasons, there should not be objections. Don’t forget people are getting relief…” said political analyst, Yogendra Yadav.