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Thursday, March 04, 2021

Election-bound states get an infrastructure push in Budget

As it campaigns in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the BJP will focus on the measures in the Budget for the farmers.

Written by Dipankar Ghose , Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: February 2, 2021 7:26:02 am
During the Budget Session in Delhi. (PTI)

With elections to key states coming up later this year and the government facing farmer protests in the northern states, the Union Budget, while announcing a massive infrastructure push for these poll-bound states, is being projected as pro-farmers, with Prime Minister Modi calling it one framed with “villages and farmers at its heart.”

As it campaigns in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the BJP will focus on the measures in the Budget for the farmers. “The highlights of our campaign on the Budget will be the announcements for the farming community. It is very important for the party in view of the farmers’ protests. We have to argue that the government is committed for the welfare of the farmers,” said a BJP leader.

In his speech, Prime Minister Modi said, “To strengthen the country’s mandis, the APMC, there is a provision for help from the agriculture infrastructure fund. All these decisions show that at the heart of this budget are villages, and our farmers.”

Party MP and chief whip Sanjay Jaiswal said, “The government has increased the agriculture credit target to Rs 16.5 lakh crore, the Finance Minister has said in her speech that the MSP regime has changed and assured a price which is 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities. The measures taken by the government has resulted in payment to farmers.”

In terms of the outreach to poll-bound states, for Assam, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced work of more than Rs 34,000 crore covering 1,300 kilometres of National Highway in the next three years.

Additionally, the government announced Rs 1,000 crore for the welfare of tea workers in Assam and West Bengal. For West Bengal, the government announced 675 km of highway work at the cost of Rs 25,000 crore, including the upgradation of the Kolkata-Siliguri highway.

For Kerala, the government announced 1,100 km of National Highway work at an investment of Rs 65,000 crore, including a 600-km section of the Mumbai-Kanyakumari corridor in Kerala.

The infrastructure push also includes funding for 11.5 kilometres of the second phase of the Kochi Metro, and 118.9 km of phase 2 of the Chennai Metro.

For Tamil Nadu, the Budget proposes 3,500 km of National Highway at an investment of Rs 1.03 lakh crore. These include the Madurai-Kollam corridor and Chittoor-Thatchur corridor for which construction will start next year, the government said.

The government also announced fishing harbours, including in Kochi, Chennai and Petuaghat in West Bengal. There will also be a dedicated freight corridor, the East West Corridor, from Bhusaval in Maharashtra to Kharagpur to Dankuni, the latter two in West Bengal.

Home Minister Amit Shah said, “Despite the distress and economic difficulty, this Aatmanirbhar Bharat Budget has something for every section of society, and with that, special provisions for Ladakh in the North to Tamil Nadu in the south to Assam in the east.”

BJP president J P Nadda said the Budget touches the lives of everyone and addresses the concerns of everyone. “Like Modiji had promised, the Budget would make laws and rules simpler to improve the ease of living. This budget, which is presented in unusual circumstances, has the sense of reality and faith in development,” Nadda said.

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