Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his deputy Jayant Sinha sat through a seven-hour afternoon session, taking notes, as opposition members in the Rajya Sabha criticised the budget as “anti-farmer”, “anti-poor”, “pro-rich” and “directionless”.
The Congress’s Anand Sharma said, “This budget is full of platitudes. It lacks direction and vision.” He slammed the government for reducing budgetary support to the social sector and agriculture. He said the credit for devolution of more funds to the states should go to the UPA as it had set up the 14th Finance Commission. The increased devolution of funds to states is only a “mirage”.
The SP’s Naresh Agarwal slammed the NDA for reducing the budgetary allocation to agriculture and education while “pampering” the corporate sector. Highlighting India’s relations with neighbouring nations, he advocated higher allocation to defence which has been unchanged since the previous budget.
His colleague Jaya Bachchan expressed concern over cuts in funds for women and child development, as well as culture and entertainment.
The JD(U)’s Pavan Kumar Varma said the budget is “lopsided” as “there is no balance in the budget in relation to holistic development of the country”. The Trinamool’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy criticised the government for reducing allocation to welfare schemes such as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.
The BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra echoed Roy, saying, “Your budget is fully for the corporate and (has) no concession for middle class or common people.” He attacked the government for pruning allocations for vital sectors saying the agriculture budget has been slashed 14.3 per cent and the education allocation by 16.5 per cent.
The CPM’s P Rajeeve too expressed concern over reduced allocations to agriculture and social sectors and demanded a hike in import duty on rubber. Nominated member Ashok S Ganguly called for a policy to trace black money within India.