With the exception of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Opposition leaders have not been kind enough to Narendra Modi government’s last three Budgets. Coming after the demonetisation decision and in the wake of Assembly elections in states, one can expect more harsh words, than genuine criticism of the Budget this year. To get some clues about how the Opposition leaders may react to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget presentation, let us us take a look at how some prominent opposition leaders reacted to Modi governnment’s last three budgets.
Union Budget 2016-17
Rahul Gandhi: He said the budget lacked “both vision and conviction”. “Modiji spent the first two years mocking the Congress Party’s focus on farmers, MGNREGA, rural development and social spending. Now mere rhetoric, without vision or action, will fool neither farmers nor the poor of this country. Budget 2016 lacks both vision and conviction. A list of new promises without any account of the failure of tall promises made in last 2 budgets,” said Rahul.
P Chidambaram: He termed the budget as a “wasted opportunity”.
“The PM had promised that he would “reform to transform”. The word reform is a little understood but much-used word. Reform means reform of factor markets or product markets. There is little evidence of such reform in the budget. So, the NDA has followed its own brand of budget making, which is just housekeeping and accounting. Thanks to the crash in oil prices, that required hardly any effort,”
Chidambaram didn’t rate the budget, but said one should look at it sectorally. “Who is happy? Is the tax payer happy? I doubt it. Is the homemaker happy? I doubt it. Is the middle class happy? I seriously doubt it. Are the markets happy…they have said thumbs down….my overall impression is that with 282 members in Lok Sabha…they should have attempted bold structural reforms…I have to conclude regrettably that it is a wasted opportunity.”
Manmohan Singh: He said the Budget lacked any big idea. “There is no big idea except one, which was yesterday mentioned by the PM himself that the government plans to double the farmers’ income in next five years…I think that is an impossible dream and there is no inclination or no way of telling the country how it will be achieved because it implies a 14 per cent increase in foreign income for each of the five years,” Singh said.
Lalu Yadav: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a “dull student who had been rusticated for “lying and cheating in the examination for lying to, and cheating the people by offering nothing for any section of society in the Budget, which he had promised before the parliamentary polls in 2014”.
Derek O’Brien, TMC: “This Budget is not constructive, nor is it creative. It is stereotype and routine. We are left with no option but to call it a hopeless budget: no hope for industry, no hope for the farmers, no hope for the poor, no hope for the middle class, no hope even for the Sensex. The effective 2016 Budget outlay is actually lower for NREGA than during 2009-10. Why has the FM not mentioned the details of the changes in the FDI policy in his Budget Speech?”
Union Budget 2015-16:
Naveen Patnaik: “Orissa has been hit on two counts — unfavourable recommendations of 14th Finance Commission and Lesser Plan allocation”
Nitish Kumar: “We should avoid political confrontation and work for Bihar’s progress. I thank Jaitley for taking some of my suggestions.”
Mallikarju Kharge: “It is not a pro-poor budget. This budget is repayment by the BJP government to the rich and the corporated who had supported them during L0k Sabha
Manmohan Singh: “My worry about the budget is that it has good intention but it does not have an adequate roadmap and framework to implement the initiatives… It was disappointing.”
P Chidambaram: He said the budget leans heavily in favour of the corporate sector and the class that pays Income Tax. Chidambaram pointed to the reduction in corporate tax and said the move would give the corporates Rs 20,000 crore by way of relief every year for the next four years.
Sonia Gandhi: This is a pro-corporate Budget.
Union Budget 2014-15:
Rahul Gandhi: “There is no clear roadmap in the budget. It is a laundry list of Rs 100 crore proposals. This budget doesn’t quicken the economic pulse; infact it slows it down.”
Sonia Gandhi: “BJP government has copied UPA policies.”
Manmohan Singh: “Just like the railway budget, there are no specifics in this Budget..there are no road maps.”
P Chidambaram: “Welcome to the real world. The BJP sought a BJP sought a mandate for Congress Mukt Bharath. My friend, Arun Jaitley, would have realised that it is not possible to have even a Congress Mukt Budget. This is the NDA government’s and Mr Jaitley’s first Budget. Whatever its shortcomings, it is appropriate to wish them well.”
Gulam Nabi Azad: “Lot was being thought would come out of this budget. But unfortunately, nothing new has come. This budget is a total repackaging of the old schemes which were conceived during the UPA… there is no direction to contain price rise. Large number of new schemes have been announced but with meagre allocation of money”
Anand Sharma: “This Budget is uninspiring and insipid”.
(Inputs from agencies)