Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's fourth straight budget, which she tabled in the Parliament on Tuesday- February 1, has come up with a widening mismatch between expectation and reality in the eyes of the middle-class community and the individual taxpayers who were looking for relief from the tax burden. Besides being a historical one for recording the shortest speech ever, the budget has spurred strong criticism from the league of opposition while the ruling ministers including the Prime Minister had staunchly backed the Finance Minister.
Soon after the Finance Minister has completed her budget speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the budget as full of possibilities. He said, "This budget is full of new possibilities of more infrastructure, more investment, more growth, and more jobs." He stated that for the first time in the country, the Parvatmala Scheme is being started for such areas as Himachal, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and North East. He added, "This plan will build a modern system of transportation on the mountains."
The Prime Minister further said, "An important aspect of this budget is the welfare of the poor. Every poor person should have a pucca house, water from the tap, toilet, gas facility, and all these have been given special attention." "An important step has been taken for the welfare of the farmers along with the faith of the people of India, the cleaning of Mother Ganga. Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, in these five states, along the banks of the Ganges, natural farming will be encouraged."
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said termed the budget as a Zero-Sum Budget and nothing is given for the salaried class, middle class, the poor and deprived, youth, farmers, and MSMEs. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said, "Budget has zero for common people, who are getting crushed by unemployment & inflation. Govt is lost in big words signifying nothing - A Pegasus spin budget."
Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in his statement, said, "After the Budget was presented this morning, we asked ourselves what has the Budget done to address any of grave challenges. The blunt answer is Nothing." He further said, "The government behaves and acts as though it is on the right path and has delivered on the issues that matter to the common people. This is false. This is also bull-headed obduracy. This also reflects the government's contemptuous disregard of the burdens and sufferings of the people."
"I was astonished that the Finance Minister was outlining a plan for the next 25 years, which she called the Amrit Kaal! The government seems to believe that the present does not need any attention and the people living in the present can be asked to wait patiently until the Amrit Kaal dawns. This is nothing but mocking the people of India, especially the poor and the deprived", Chidambaram added.
He said, "By any standard, today's budget speech was the most capitalist speech ever read by a Finance Minister. The FM has mastered the jargon of capitalist economics. Read her speech again, count the number of times she used the words digital, portal, IT-based, paperless, database, ecosystem, global, atmanirbhar. The word 'poor' occurs twice in paragraph 6, and we thank the FM for remembering that there are poor people in this country."
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, "Extremely disappointing, a damp squib! There seems to be absolutely nothing in this Budget. It's an astonishingly disappointing Budget. When you listen to the speech, no mention of MGNREGA, of Defence, of any other urgent priorities facing the public." Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, "This Budget will prove to be a Budget to increase inflation, to fill the pockets of industrialists and to empty the pockets of common man, farmer, labourer."
Upendra Kuswaha, the leader of Bihar's JDU, which observes alliance with the BJP-led NDA, has expressed his disappointment over the Budget. He said, "We have a long-standing demand for a special status of Bihar and expecting that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would say something on it but unfortunately, she completely ignored it. The Union Budget has been beneficial for developed states but it has nothing for poor states like Bihar. Our state needs financial support from the Centre for its development."
Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said, "I don't think this Budget is going to be up to the mark to face the current economic situations of the country. Without legislation via Budget, they are legalising that (crypto), this is not a right parliamentary practice." On the other hand, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh has said, "This is a progressive Budget; benefits all sections especially farmers, women, youth. Important announcements such as MSP, measures to double farmers income, 60 lakh jobs for youth, measures for women empowerment such as Mission Shakti will boost our economy."