There has been a mixed reaction to the annual Union budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Describing it as a “balanced budget,” Roznama Khabrein, in its editorial on February 3, writes: “Keeping in view the forthcoming elections in five states and the negative effects of demonetisation, the Modi government has tried to present a budget that is balanced and acceptable; and the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, has been successful in this regard. On the one hand he has taken a step for providing a healing touch to the wounds of the middle class by providing relief in income tax. On the other hand, by imposing a surcharge on incomes of the business class, he has created the impression that the government is sympathetic to the common man and not inclined to give any concessions to the rich.”
Rehnuma-e-Deccan, in its editorial on February 4, says that there are many promises in the budget to please the people, but “nothing for minorities.” It writes: “The budget has provided Rs 52,393 crore for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Rs 31,320 crores for the Scheduled Tribes whereas only Rs 4,195 crore has been allocated for the welfare of minorities. This is a very small amount in view of the greater needs of minorities, particularly Muslims, who are backward economically as well as in terms of unemployment.”
Siasat and Jadid Khabar have severely criticised the government’s decision “to keep the death of senior Muslim League MP and former Union minister E. Ahamed a secret” till the presentation of the budget. “It would have been appropriate to preserve parliamentary values and democratic principles and postpone the budget presentation for a day,” says Siasat. Jadid Khabar too has expressed the same sentiments.
UP’s Pre-Poll Scenario
Commenting on the confusion prevailing in Uttar Pradesh before the assembly elections, the group editor of Rashtriya Sahara, Syed Faisal Ali, in his signed column on February 5, writes: “The anxiety of Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party at the Akhilesh-Rahul alliance is natural as they fear a possible Muslim vote on the pattern of the Bihar Assembly elections.The BJP is trying to win over a section of Dalit voters whereas the BSP is trying to get the support of Muslims. Then there is the Ram temple issue that has been raised again. But it seems that the Muslims of the state, particularly in western UP, will not follow their earlier pattern of voting that led to a division of votes. They will keep in mind the long-term gains instead of personal or emotional politics. They will adopt a quiet strategy instead of being swayed by moves of intellectuals or intellectualism and succeed in stopping communal forces because in west UP, the Jats too, while supporting the RLD, have turned against BJP”
Inquilab, in its editorial on January 31, writes: “Even though a Bihar-like gathbandhan (alliance) could not be formed, the SP-Congress alliance is the best in the current situation. It would certainly reduce the dispersal of secular votes, which would have positive results. The enthusiasm shown by the young leaders of the two parties gives an indication that a wave in their favour is imperative. Both parties would have to be alert and vigilant against their opponents and work towards strengthening the alliance in the days to come.”
Rashtriya Sahara, in its editorial on February 7, writes: “The stay, imposed by not one but two US courts, on President Donald Trump’s ban on entry of people from seven Muslim countries into the country, is clear proof that the spirit of justice is still alive. First, Judge James Robart of the federal court of Seattle (in Washington) stayed the ban on entry and, then, the federal appeals court of San Francisco rejected an appeal against the Seattle court’s judgement. One wonders how to look at this situation when the US president is unable to digest the judicial wisdom in his own country and is rather indiscreetly saying that if anything happens in the US, the judge who stayed his decision on the ban would be responsible. He tweeted that the courts staying the entry ban are becoming hurdles to securing US borders. The judge, Trump feels, has put the nation into a crisis.”
Most other papers have also been very critical of Trump’s decision and his subsequent statements. Munsif, in its editorial on February 4, has pointed out the decision of the US government to double the salary requirement of H-1B visa applicants so that the IT companies are discouraged from getting employees from other countries and employ Americans in their establishments. “The government of India has expressed its anxiety on this score but there appears to be no chance that President Trump would step back in this regard,” the paper writes.