Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday once again confronted the opposition for its “obstructionism”. In his reply to the debate on his budget, later passed in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley told the opposition that obstructionism can be “a temporary tactic and at times a strategy” but not a “long-term ideology”
Responding to the objections raised by opposition MPs who said his budget is anti-poor and has left the states with less funds, Jaitley said his government believes in an investment-friendly environment, the benefits of which can be passed on to the poor in the society. He also argued that the taxation scheme of the government will leave the states with more funds.
“Obstructionism can have a sadistic thrill. But that can only be temporary. Therefore, my appeal to all members of the House is to kindly support the steps that we have taken in this budget,” Jaitley said.
The Congress’s Jairam Ramesh, the last to submit an objection on the Finance Bill, said the ground for GST had been prepared by the UPA government and that the then opposition BJP had opposed it. Jaitley responded that GST is not a “party-adversarial” issue but one between “central and state governments”.
Responding to objections raised by Anand Sharma who said “the central assistance to states in budget of 2014-15 was 42 per cent” and has now been brought down to “24 per cent”, Jaitley said that “as a result of some schemes shifting to the states or partly shifting to the states”, the states gain Rs 1.35 lakh crore extra.
Stressing that the government wants more investments, Jaitley cited the example of Andhra Pradesh which he said “lost out on revenue because of division”. This triggered unruly scenes in the House. Andhra MP Jesudasu Seelam urged the minister to disclose the funds allocated to the state. Jaitley said his government has allotted sufficient resources to central schemes such as MNREGA.
Later, K V P Ramachandra Rao (Congress) rushed to the well and thumped on the deputy chairman’s table, amid roars from the opposition. The BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi demanded the opposition apologise.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad quickly disassociated his party from Ramachandra Rao’s act and said, “Members of Andhra Pradesh are agitated. They were very eager to ask some questions, but, at the same time, my party and I myself don’t appreciate the way the hon. member was thumping the table of the deputy chairman. I am sorry for that on his behalf.”