This is ‘Sell India’ Budget, Says Opposition
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the budget handed over India’s assets to crony capitalists.
Soon after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam presented the Union Budget on Monday, 1 February, Opposition leaders reacted to the schemes, attacking what they saw as a budget meant for a few large companies.
Among the main issues raised by members of Opposition parties were privatisation of resources, lack of impetus for the agricultural sector and absence of substantial measures for middle and low income groups.
FM Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, proposed an exemption from filing Income Tax returns for senior citizens aged 75 years and above, who only have pension and interest income. The income tax slab for the financial year 2021-22 will remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, the fiscal deficit for the FY21 has been pegged at 9.5 percent of the GDP, while for FY22, it has been estimated at 6.8 percent, the finance minister said.
The finance minister also announced a 137 percent increase in the health budget.
Earlier, chants of 'repeal the farm laws' could be heard in the Parliament as she presented the Union Budget.
The Congress party tore into the budget with several party leaders including Rahul Gandhi calling it one that aims to “handover India’s assets” to “crony capitalists”.
Congress raked up a range of issues including agriculture, farmer welfare and fuel, which they say, have either been ignored or underserved.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Congress national spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Monday addressed a press conference and said that the Congress party would rate the Union Budget 2021 5 on a scale of 10.
“The finance minister did not speak anything on the expenditure on defence. In regards to the health sector, she clubbed the allocation for vaccines and grants of the Finance Commission to it.”P Chidambram
Adding that Congress always felt that allocation for defence and health sectors should be in Budget 2021, Chidambaram said FM Nirmala Sitharaman "deceived" those who were listening to her speech. He said they those listening to her had no clue that she has imposed cess on a large number of products including petroleum and diesel.
“It was a vengeful act against the thousands of farmers who took out the longest tractor rally in history. It was also a cruel blow to federalism because the states do not get a share of the revenue from cesses,” Chidambaram said.
"She deceived the people of India, especially the poor, the working class, the migrants, the farmers, the industrial units that had been closed down permanently, and those who had lost their jobs, both regular and informal, and are still looking for jobs.”
He also warned poll-bound states to not be fooled by the special budget allocations as implementing them would take years.
Randeep Surjewala, at a press conference, said that the Modi government’s philosophy is "bech khayenge sab kuch, nahi chodenge ab kuch (we won't spare anything because we will sell off everything)”.
Pointing out that allocation for MGNREGA has been decreased by 42 percent, Surjewala said that Budget 2021 has done a "grave injustice" to rural India.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the budget, describing it as an “anti-people budget,” according to ANI.
“It is anti-people budget. They always make false statements. India's first paperless budget sold almost every sector. There is nothing for the unorganised sector in the budget,” ANI quoted Mamata as stating.
Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien characterised the budget as “100% visioneless” and describing its theme as “Sell India”.
In an elaborate Twitter thread, CPI(M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury laid out his criticism of the budget. He summarised it as one that belies the notion of a V-shaped recovery and instead one that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Similar to Congress and TMC, Yechury also highlighted what he called “a loot of national assets” through “large scale privatisation”. He also drew attention to MNREGA cuts at a time when unemployment has been high.
According to Yechury, agriculture allocations have been cut despite the farmer protests. Moreover, he stated that while the government has spoken of bringing in greater investments, it wouldn’t do much to boost the economy due to weak demand.
Aam Aadmi Party
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday took to Twitter to say:
“This budget is a benefit to a few big companies.
This budget will work to increase the problems of common people with inflation.”
Rashtriya Janta Dal leader Tejasvi Yadav told ANI, “This budget is not for the development of the country but for its sale.”
“Earlier, they sold Railways, Air India, Bharat Petroleum, and others. This budget is about more such entities that will be sold including gas pipeline, stadium, roadways and warehouses,” ANI quoted Yadav as stating.
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