Opposition parties led by the Congress on Monday dubbed the Union budget as a wasted opportunity with former prime minister Manmohan Singh saying the annual financial account was bereft of “any big idea”.
Other opposition parties were equally harsh on Union finance minister Arun Jaitley as they trashed his budget for 2016-17 as a document without vision and direction.
“It’s a nitpicking budget. There is no big idea except one idea…that the government plans to double farmers’ income in next five years…I think that is an impossible dream,” said Singh, an ace economist who ushered in India’s economic reforms as the finance minister in 1991.
Singh, however, added that Jaitley was able to stick to the fiscal deficit target that was outlined by him.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at Jaitley’s enhanced allocation for MGNREGA, reminding Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he had “mocked” the Congress for the past two years over the rural job scheme introduced by the UPA government.
Gandhi said the budget was mere rhetoric which will “fool neither farmers nor the poor of this country”.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram said the NDA government has followed its own brand of budget making, which is just housekeeping and accounting.
“One virtue of the budget is that it has left every section of people equally disappointed,” he said.
He said that the NDA government’s “political budget” failed to address problems faced by three crucial sectors -- rural economy, private investments and exports.
While CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the budget will burden commoners due to a hike in indirect tax, CPI’s D Raja said there is “nothing spectacular” in Jaitley’s proposals.
“Outside (the) budget, they promised a lot to (the) corporate sector. Not evident now,” Raja added.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the budget did not address the concerns of the middle class and distressed farmers reeling under huge debts and committing suicide.
Questioning the black-money amnesty scheme, Kejriwal accused the government of cheating those who voted it to power. Kejriwal also claimed that loans of industrialists have been “waived” but a similar relief was not extended to farmers.