Non-BJP ruled states saw little to cheer in the Union budget on Wednesday. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “A controversial #Budget2017 which is clueless, useless, baseless, missionless and actionless. Heartless.” The Trinamool Congress chief has emerged as the most vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP after demonetisation.
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh described the budget as a betrayal of farmers, the youth and the poor. “It’s a betrayal. No justice has been done to the people of Uttar Pradesh. If the budget had been presented after the polls, some announcements may have come for them,” SP’s chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said. Uttar Pradesh goes to polls in seven phases beginning February 11.
Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac said the budget was a big letdown and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had played with statistics to give a wrong picture that some of the recent decisions including demonetisation helped the economy. “It is a directionless exercise. There are some announcements, but funds were not allocated. He tried his best to give a picture that some of the recent decisions helped the economy. He can’t fool people who suffered the most under the present regime,” said Issac.
Kerala opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala also criticised the budget, saying the state’s long-pending demand for an AIIMS was overlooked again.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar described the budget as disappointing for the state as well as the nation, with nothing new to offer. “It seems sloganeering will continue and the ground realities are for all to see. There is not much to show how the second green revolution will be taken forward. It will be in the eastern India and Bihar has already launched its agriculture road map, but there is not much on offer for the state. We initiated reforms early, but the budget has no roadmap,” said the JD(U) leader.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad called the budget as disappointing and shorn of any concrete schemes for the poor, even as he slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for pushing back the country’s growth “due to faulty policies and demonetisation”.
The Karnataka government, headed by the Congress, said the budget had not addressed the drought in the state. Karnataka rural development minister HK Patil said, “The budget was more like a manifesto, where claims were made but the allocations did not match these intentions.”
Maruti Manpade of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha, a farmers’ organisation, said there was nothing in the budget that would benefit the drought-hit agriculture sector. “Saying this is the highest allocation for MGNREGA does not mean anything. Allocations must be based on demand and not on bettering the previous government’s meagre allocations.”
The AAP government in Delhi also criticised the budget. “Delhi has been deprived of its due from central share in this year’s budget too. Delhi’s share in central taxes remains stagnant for 17th year at Rs 325 crore,” said deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. He also criticised the cap on cash donations to political parties. “Post-demonetisation, even vegetable vendors have had to go cashless for transactions as small as Rs 20. Why should political parties get a relaxation of up to Rs 2,000?”
(With inputs from Avijit Ghosal in Kolkata; Umesh Raghuvanshi in Lucknow; Ramesh Babu in Thiruvananthapuram; Arun Kumar, Anirban Guha Roy in Patna; Vikram Gopal in Bengaluru; Sweta Goswami in Delhi.)