Opposition calls budget insipid, says no attention to farm, rural areas
The Congress called the union budget “insipid”, and said the party is “shocked” that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s speech did not disclose the allocations for the rural job programme, midday meal scheme and health care and also for vulnerable sections such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities and women.
“Has there ever been a budget speech that does not disclose the allocations to important programmes? We are shocked by this departure from the usual practice,” senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram told reporters at the party headquarters in Delhi.
“It was an unusually opaque exercise, an old wine in a new bottle. The finance minister belied expectations and gave no meaningful relief to any section of society.” On the contrary, the Congress leader said, the finance minister has increased customs duties on several goods, raised taxes on petrol and diesel and proposed extensive amendments to the Income Tax Act that will increase burden on the taxpayer.
Watch | ‘Insipid’ and ‘Opaque’: P Chidambaram on Union budget
Chidambaram said the budget has been prepared without listening to the voices of either ordinary citizens or knowledgeable economists.
“The Modi government treats India as one big state government and has taken upon itself to do things that are the right and duty of state governments. This is not cooperative federalism, it is an unequal partnership imposed by the Centre on state governments,” he said.
Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia said it is “a mere hogwash” if the government thinks that by appealing to farmers to implement zero budget farming, it can “pursue its illusion” of doubling the farm income. “This from a government which hasn’t let NCRB publish #FarmerSuicides data since 2016,” he tweeted.
“#ZeroBudgetFarming means farming without using credit & spending money on inputs. Research shows that it has been practised in South India by land owning relatively affluent farmers. This is no solution for our mostly debt ridden, landless marginal & small farmers,” Scindia said in another tweet.
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien called it a “dream budget” and claimed that the government was still “only selling dreams” and not delivering.
“Far from a dream, it’s a nightmare for common people who are suffering. At current growth rates, government’s promise of doubling farmer income will only happen in 2040, not 2022. West Bengal has already tripled the farmer income,” he said.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the first budget of the second Modi government was a “payback gift” after the elections to corporate India and foreign financial interests.
“Nothing was there for India’s working people — kisans and workers — who would be left to fend for themselves,” the party said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said the finance minister spoke about replicating zero budget natural farming model for the agricultural sector, but did not provide any solution or relief to the debt trap faced by farmers .
“She should have rolled out a definite action plan with a budgetary provision to double farmers’ income by 2022, and solutions to solve the issues at hand faced by the farmers,” he said.