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Jaitley's budget speech focuses on development, not politics

Analysts scrutinising Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech for ideological and political content ran instead into three non-political words: job (16 times), growth (24 times) and investment (50 times). With no assembly election imminent, this was clearly a Budget intended to reflect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s politics of development. The coming years, when politics will dominate, may be different.

business Updated: Mar 01, 2015 01:01 IST
DK Singh
DK Singh
Hindustan Times
Union Budget,Union Budget 2015-16,Budget 2015 highlights
A-bystander-watches-a-digital-screen-showing-finance-minister-Arun-Jaitley-delivering-his-Budget-speech-at-Parliament-in-New-Delhi-AFP-photo

Analysts scrutinising Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech for ideological and political content ran instead into three non-political words: job (16 times), growth (24 times) and investment (50 times).



With no assembly election imminent, this was clearly a Budget intended to reflect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s politics of development. The coming years, when politics will dominate, may be different.



There were no sops, no freebies and no grand schemes, and remarkably, hardly any strong reaction in Parliament, a sharp contrast to the days of the UPA’s so-called “povertarian” Budgets.



If there was a hint of political considerations, it was in the proposal to set up All India Institutes of Medical Sciences in J&K, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Assam. Jaitley made it a point to mention that Bihar and West Bengal were going to be amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the recommendations of the Finance Commission; the FM also proposed special assistance to these two states similar to that provided to Andhra Pradesh.



While the BJP is set to be a part of the coalition government in J&K, Bihar is set to go to the polls this year-end and elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam are slated for April next year. The party also has high political stakes in Punjab.



What could also please BJP workers and supporters of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee was the announcement of the Atal Pension Yojana and Atal Innovation Mission. The RSS, the BJP’s ideological patron, did not go public with its reaction immediately, but it’s likely to be pleased with the launch of the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Kaushal Yojana and also the intention of the government to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of “this great nationalist” in a befitting manner.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi extolled Jaitley’s effort for its “distinct focus on farmers, youth, poor, neo-middle class and the Aam Nagrik”, adding that it delivered on “growth, equity and job creation”.



Jaitley’s bold reduction of corporate tax in a phased manner and the abolition of wealth tax were duly condemned later by the Opposition as “pro-corporate”, but criticism was half-hearted and lacked sting.



There was some friction when the FM increased the allocation for the UPA-initiated MNREGA and appeared to take a dig at Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress party in the House, but the bigger message was clearly intended to be that the BJP had graciously extended and enlarged a scheme inherited from its political opponents.

First Published: Feb 28, 2015 19:46 IST