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Union Budget 2018: After Gujarat, BJP banks on pro-rural Budget

Presenting the Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley used the word farmer 22 times, and agriculture 15 times. Woken up by the relatively tight fight in Gujarat, largely due to the ire of farmers in the state, the party projected the Budget as pro-farmer and pro-poor.

Written by Liz Mathew | Updated: February 2, 2018 8:27 am
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents pro-farmer Union Budget 2018 Recalling that the party’s tally had come down at its own bastion, a party leader said they had to learn lessons from the Gujarat lesson. (Express Photo/Partha Paul/Representational)

Presenting the Union Budget on Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley used the word farmer 22 times, and agriculture 15 times. Then there were other phrases and schemes in his Budget speech such as MSME (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises), universal health programme, and jobs.

By the end of the first half of his speech, there was little doubt where the Budget was heading – many, including Opposition leaders, found the first half nothing short of a political address BJP MPs, meanwhile, hope it would would help the party disarm the Opposition and project itself as poor-friendly in the run-up to crucial Assembly elections in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan this year, and the big battle – the General Election – scheduled in 2019.

Woken up by the relatively tight fight in Gujarat, largely due to the ire of farmers in the state, as many BJP leaders read it, the party projected the Budget as pro-farmer and pro-poor.

Also read | Congress calls Budget defeatist, questions fiscal arithmetic

Claiming that the Budget gives “new wings to aspirations of the poor, the farmers and the middle class”, party president Amit Shah put it in perspective: “The ‘New India Budget’ will truly empower all sections of the society to attain prosperity. The record allocation to the rural sector and agriculture will lead to unprecedented rural development and agricultural growth. Consistent focus on rural development and agriculture has been a hallmark of our government.”

Recalling that the party’s tally had come down at its own bastion, a party leader said they had to learn lessons from the Gujarat lesson.

“This Budget had to prop up the party’s rural-friendly face ahead of the elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, as well as 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” the leader said. In Gujarat, disillusioned farmers had reminded BJP leaders about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of minimum support price (MSP) that would cover production cost plus 50 per cent. The poll-bound Madhya Pradesh also experienced violent farmers’ agitation for procurement and higher MSP for farm produces.

Read | Assurance on MSP but for govt, rural is more about infrastructure than agriculture

“The BJP could not afford ignoring the anger among farmers (any longer),” a senior party leader pointed out. Assuring that the Modi government is committed to welfare of farmers, Jaitley reiterated that the emphasis is on “generating higher incomes” for farmers.

He said, “We consider agriculture as an enterprise and want to help farmers produce more from the same land parcel at lesser cost, and simultaneously realise higher prices for their produce. Our emphasis is also on generating productive and gainful on-farm and non-farm employment for farmers and landless families.”

For Karnataka, set for polls in the next three months, Jaitley announced a suburban network of approximately 160 km at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore for Bengaluru metropolis.

With the government facing severe criticism for its failure in generating employment, against Modi’s promise before 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Jaitley zoomed in on employment generation. While he spoke about tax exemption for job-generating sectors, the emphasis on MSME sector and the move to reduce corporate tax rate are being projected by the BJP as steps to boost entrepreneurship and job creation.

“It’s the first time that customs duty has been increased to protect the domestic market,” a government official said.Party sources said the announcement of the new flagship programme, the National Health Protection Scheme, to cover more than 10 crore poor and vulnerable families by providing coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation, could be the most talked-about scheme during the election campaign.

“It is like any social security scheme. You have paid 0.1 per cent and providing health protection to 40 per cent. It will eventually become a Universal Health Coverage,” he said.

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  1. Shams Shamsul
    Feb 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm
    2018 budget by the RSS/BJP rulers proves once again that no other set of rulers can beat them so far as hypocrisy, cheating, bluffing and speaking lies are concerned. Just take the schemes being touted as revolutionary and game changing. A renowned economist has rightly asked: "There was a g declaration of a new publicly funded health insurance scheme that is supposed to cover nearly half the population with total potential payout of Rs 5 lakh per family per year. Just the premia for this would amount to a minimum of Rs 60,000 crore and could easily reach Rs 1,00,000 crore. But the actual budgetary allocation for the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana comes to less than Rs 2,000 crore — only Rs 672 crore more than the amount in last year’s budget (which incidentally was not spent). So where is the rest of the money to come from?" So is the lie about giving farmers 50 profit on their crops. It will require 20 thousand crore of rupees where as only 2 thousand crore has been allocated.
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      Christian Terrorism Buster
      Feb 2, 2018 at 4:24 am
      The Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) is also a Christian Naga terrorist group operating in India. The main aim of the organization is to establish a sovereign Christian state, "Nagalim". The organization's slogan is "Nagaland for Christ". Its manifesto is based on the principle of a terrorist Baptist Christian religious outlook. In their documents the NSCN has called for recognizing only Christianity in Nagalim. They believe in Christian terrorism theocracy. The NSCN Christian church funded organization has been declared a terrorist organisation in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. It is believed that the organisation raises funds through trafficking drugs from Burma and selling smuggled weapons to other insurgent groups in the region. The group reportedly indulges in kidnapping, assassination, extortion, forced conversion, and other terrorist activities in the name of Jesus.
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        Christian Terrorism Buster
        Feb 2, 2018 at 4:23 am
        The Christian Church funded National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), is a terrorist rebel group that seeks the secession of Tripura, North-East India, and is a proscribed terrorist organization in India. Group activities have been described as Christian terrorists engaging in terrorist violence motivated by their Christian beliefs. The NLFT includes in its aims the forced conversion of all tribespeople in Tripura to Christianity. The NLFT says that it is fighting not only for the removal of Bengali immigrants from the tribal areas, "but also for the tribal areas of the state to become overtly Christian", and "has warned members of the tribal community that they may be attacked if they do not accept its Christian agenda". The NLFT is listed as a terrorist organization in the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. The CPM state government contends that the Baptist Fascist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT. These forcible conversions include raping.
        (1)(12)
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          Christian Terrorism Buster
          Feb 2, 2018 at 4:23 am
          The CPM state government proved that the Baptist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT. Reports from the state government and Indian media describe activities such as the acquisition by the NLFT of explosives through the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, and threats of killing Hindus celebrating religious festivals. Over 2000 Hindus in Tripura were reported to have been killed by the NLFT from 1999 to 2001 for resisting forced conversion to Christianity.[58] According to Hindus in the area, there have also been forced conversions of tribal villagers to Christianity by armed NLFT militants. These forcible conversions, sometimes including the use of "rape as a means of intimidation", have also been noted by academics outside of India. In 2000, the NLFT broke into a temple and gunned down a popular Hindu preacher popularly known as Shanti Kali.
          (1)(9)
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          Christian Terrorism Buster
          Feb 2, 2018 at 4:22 am
          People blame Islam as a terrorist religion. Christianity is much more dangerous. They have killed about 740 million people so far in the name of Crusade, holocaust, evangelism, conversion, and rape because Virgin Mary was raped.
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            Christian Terrorism Buster
            Feb 2, 2018 at 4:22 am
            The Fascist Christian Church funded Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) is also a Christian terrorist group operating in India. The main aim of the organization is to establish a sovereign Christian state, "Nagalim". The organization's slogan is "Nagaland for Christ". Its manifesto is based on the principle of a terrorist Baptist Christian religious outlook. In their documents the NSCN has called for recognizing only Christianity in Nagalim. They believe in Christian terrorism theocracy. The NSCN Christian church funded organization has been declared a terrorist organisation in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. It is believed that the organisation raises funds through trafficking drugs from Burma and selling smuggled weapons to other insurgent groups in the region. The group reportedly indulges in kidnapping, assassination, extortion, forced conversion, and other terrorist activities in the name of Jesus.
            (0)(9)
            Reply
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