No heart behind it… Budget theme is sell India: Opposition

The Congress and other opposition parties on Monday slammed the Union Budget saying that it deceived the poor, working class and farmers and did not present a roadmap for accelerating growth and revival of consumer demand. While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the government is planning to hand over India’s assets to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crony capitalist friends, the Left called it pro-corporate and the Trinamool Congress said the theme of the budget is “sell India”.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram welcomed the Budget’s stress on spending on infrastructure, but argued “the kind of emphasis you give to infrastructure…equal emphasis should have been given to the poor, the working class, the migrant, the agricultural labour and the daily worker. That is completely missing in this Budget. This Budget may have had a mind behind it but there is certainly no heart behind it.” He said the Budget was a “let down like never before”.

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Chidambaram said the cess on petrol and diesel was “a cruel blow to the average citizen, including the farmers”, and “a cruel blow to federalism because the states do not get a share of the revenue from cesses”. He said while there is no rise in defence expenditure, the increase in allocation for health was a “conjurer’s trick”. He said the total defence expenditure has been increased by just Rs 4,000 crore.

“India’s first paperless budget is also a 100% visionless budget. Theme of the fake budget is Sell India! Railways: sold, Airports: sold, Ports: sold, Insurance: sold, PSUs: 23 sold! Common people ignored. Farmers ignored. Rich get richer, nothing for the middle class, poor get poorer,” tweeted TMC leader Derek O’ Brien.

The CPM said the Budget was a colossal betrayal of the people.

“The budgeted Central government’s total expenditure of 34.8 lakh crores in 2021-22 is identical in nominal terms to that in 2020-21 – which amounts to slashing expenditure in real terms. This represents the complete abrogation by the government of its responsibility towards the people but shoring up the fortunes of a privileged few including through their greater control over the nation’s productive assets,” the party said in a statement.

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