Releasing the autobiography of former finance minister Yashwant Sinha on Monday, former President Pranab Mukherjee said Sinha, who presented an interim budget for the Chandra Shekhar government in 1991, was ready to place India’s first “reformist” budget.
Reading an excerpt from Sinha’s autobiography Relentless, Mukherjee said if not for the opposition from the Congress, which gave outside support to the Chandra Shekhar government, Sinha “could have become the first reformist finance minister”.
“…As personally, I am involved in the event (mentioned in the book), I thought that I would share from his book. I want to quote from the book, ‘It was an honour to present the Budget as the finance minister of Chandra Shekhar…because of strong resistance from the Congress party’…I, of course, belong to the Congress party and I was one of them (opposing). But Chandra Shekhar came to know that we (Congress) had apprehension that he is going to have heavy taxes. And heavy taxes would surely not go in favour of Congress if elections were conducted…Rajiv Gandhi invited me and I had a long discussion with Sinha,” Mukherjee recalled.
“….I understand the problems which you are referring to (in the book)…because you were the man who was ready to place the first reformist budget in India, which Dr Manmohan Singh presented after a few months. Because the impression, I got from the talk, that he (Sinha) is not going to present a Budget with high taxation but is going to present the Budget which Dr Singh presented later. Sinha was getting ready for it but could not do so…Sinha could have become the first reformist finance minister…he was prevented from doing so by persons including me as Congress member of Parliament,” Mukherjee said.