During a debate on the Union Budget in the Rajya Sabha, Opposition leaders on Thursday accused the government of presenting a Budget that was rich on intent but which lacked the required details. The government countered the Opposition claims by saying that the “pro-poor and pro-farmer” Budget lays the roadmap for the next 10 years and it was because of effective implementation of schemes that the Narendra Modi government had returned to power with a thumping majority.
Participating in the discussion, NCP’s Praful Patel said that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s speech was “high on intent” but “did not have much detail”.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that the Budget offers “no thought, no structural change, no vision” and that the government should talk about reality and “stop showing dreams”. Sibal also said that it will be wrong if India manages to become a $5-trillion economy without managing to increase the per capita income of its citizens.
Several Opposition leaders spoke on unemployment, economic slowdown, credit crunch, agrarian distress, among other issues.
CPI’s D Raja said the labour codes were “anti-labour”.
TMC’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the Budget does not help to allay concerns of the unemployed youth while DMK’s Tiruchi Siva said he was disappointed as the Budget “offers no ray of light for a bleak future”.
Countering the Opposition claims, BJP member Prabhat Jha said the Budget was “pro-poor and pro-farmer” and claimed the allocation for farm sector has been raised significantly.
SAD member Naresh Gujral also expressed concerns about the cess, saying it was “against the spirit of cooperative federalism”. However, he praised the Budget, saying that India has got another chance to become a manufacturing hub and generate jobs.
BJP leader Anil Jain said that the Modi-led government “has not only made schemes for the poor but also implemented them in the first five-year term”. “Schemes impacted peoples’ life and that is why the Modi government was back in power with such a thumping majority,” he said.
A jibe by BJP leader Anil Baluni that Congress leader P Chidambaram trusts foreign media over Indian media elicited a sharp response during the discussion. Referring to Chidambaram’s comment earlier in the day that Indian media is “tamed”, Baluni asked for the remarks to be expunged from official records. Baluni said Chidambaram had said “various negative and condemnable things about the Indian media”. He said there are “many people in the country” who “do not even like their clothes washed in this country”. They do not like “if India is praised anywhere in the world” and yet “they like to rule in India”, Baluni said. “There is no harm in liking foreign media and foreign culture”, but “don’t insult Indian media”, Baluni said.
Several Congress leaders objected to Baluni’s remarks as Chidambaram was not present in the House and asked the Deputy Chairman to ensure that the BJP leader restricts his speech to the Budget.