Words of wisdom from Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda and some light-hearted sher-o-shayari peppered finance minister Arun Jaitley’s 105-minute budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday.
The 64-year-old Jaitley — wearing a black sleeveless Nehru jacket over a light brown kurta — walked into the Lok Sabha holding the traditional budget suitcase 15 minutes before the proceedings began.
As he took his seat on the front row of the treasury benches, ruling party members wished him for presenting his fourth budget after the BJP-led NDA government came to power in May 2014.
But parliamentarians from Kerala, barring Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, walked out of the House. They were protesting speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s refusal to adjourn the House for the day in respect for former Union minister and sitting member E Ahamed, who died of a cardiac arrest during the President’s speech in Parliament on Tuesday.
Jaitley began his speech at 11.10 am.
Flanked by BJP veteran LK Advani and Union roads minister Nitin Gadkari, he started: “Today is the auspicious day of Basant Panchami and that spring is the season of optimism.” He went on.
Just a few seats away, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thumped the desk vigorously at every announcement.
Jaitley invoked the Father of the Nation — “a right cause never fails” — to drive home the point that the Prime Minister’s demonetisation move will have a positive impact on the country’s economy. Barring a few, all ministers were seen taking notes.
About 20 minutes into his speech, Jaitley took the seat to recite a few lines in Hindi as his family watched in rapt attention the proceedings from the speaker’s gallery.
“Is mod pe ghabra ke na tham jaiye aap/jo baat nayi hai usse apnaiye aap/darte hain nayi raah pe kyon chalne se/hum aage aage chalte hain aa jaiye aap.”
A loose translation of the couplet would be something like this: Don’t stop at this juncture out of fear/ accept the new/why are you afraid of taking a new path/we will lead the way, you come along.
Applause from the treasury benches was predictable. But Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi too was seen thumping the desk when the finance minister listed out steps to cleanse political funding.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi was not present in the House, a rare occasion when she missed the budget presentation.
“Kaale dhan ko bhi badalnaa padaa, aaj apna rang (Black money too will have to change its colour today),” he said, spelling about measures to deal with the black money issue.
By now he had finished his third glass of water.
Jaitley once again got up to conclude his marathon budget speech at 12.55pm with a quote: “When my aim is right, when my goal is in sight, the winds favour me and I fly.”
Soon after, the speaker adjourned the House till Friday. The Prime Minister promptly walked up to Jaitley to congratulate him with a warm handshake.