Union Budget 'let down like never before', will unravel soon: Cong

·4-min read

New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) Asserting that the Union Budget was a 'let down like never before', the Congress on Monday claimed that it will unravel soon, and described the imposition of cess on petrol and diesel in the budget as a 'vengeful act' against the thousands of farmers who took out the tractor rally.

The opposition party said it was a case of 'wrong diagnosis and prescription', and that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could have been 'brave' by extending help to the poor, but chose to be 'timid'.

Attacking the Centre, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Narendra Modi government plans to handover India's assets to crony capitalists while his party colleague P Chidambaram said Sitharaman 'deceived' those who were listening to her speech, especially the MPs, had no clue that she has imposed cesses on a large number of products including petroleum and diesel -- Rs 2.50 on petrol per litre and Rs 4.00 on diesel per litre.

'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,' the former finance minister said while addressing a press conference.

He said this was a 'cruel blow' to the average citizen, including farmers.

'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 alleged.

Finance Minister Sitharaman presented the budget for 2021-22 in Lok Sabha and read out the budget speech in the Lok Sabha from a tablet on Monday instead of a conventional paper document as the first paperless budget since independence was presented by the government due to the COVID situation.

Reading out a party statement, Chidambaram said Sitharaman did not mention defence at all, 'as if the Chinese had vacated occupied Indian territory'.

She did not mention that the defence expenditure in 2021-22 will not see any significant rise, he said.

'The FM had promised a budget 'like never before'. Her mandate was to present an annual statement of revenue and expenditure for 2021-22. What she did, however, was to estimate expenditure over 2 years or 3 years or 4 years or, in one case, over 5 years,' he said.

She made a reference to the prime minister 14 times and to the farmers 11 times, he pointed out.

'The budget was a let down like never before. This budget, like the previous one, will unravel sooner than you think,' he said.

Senior Congress leader and Deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma tweeted, 'the FM could have been brave but chose to be timid. The nation needed a bold budget and more direct transfers to the weaker sections to revive demand, restart job creation.' The finance minister could have been bold and extended help to the poor and the working class, but she chose to be timid and continued with the government's rhetoric, Sharma said.

He further added that 'One Nation, One Ration Card' and increased spending on public health were two bright spots in an otherwise 'directionless' budget which will be forgotten in a few weeks.

Terming the budget 'disappointing', Congress' deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi alleged that the BJP has put India into insolvency and bankruptcy and is busy selling public-owned assets to 12-15 major companies.

'Rest of India which is struggling with rising costs, unemployment and corruption have to reconcile with a meaningless 'Aatmanirbhar' slogan,' he alleged.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also alleged that the budget was a 'national monetisation plan -- short hand for National Sell out' and there was 'no central focus in Budget'.

'FM's Talkthorn (sic) oblivious that growth rate of GDP is in a record 37th month decline.Worst Crisis since 1991. Except for a National Monetisation Plan - short hand for National Sell out no Central Focus in Budget. Bottom line-Will not grow economy but sell the family silver,' he tweeted.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took a dig at the Centre over the budget, saying 'this BJP government reminds me of the garage mechanic who told his client, 'I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder'.' Another Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, 'After promising a century, FM is out hit wicket at Zero!! Instead of calling it as 'budget of the century' it will be remembered as 'blunder of the century' by BJP Government,' he tweeted.

'Budget case of 'wrong diagnosis and wrong prescription' by BJP government which instead of healing, reforming and rejuvenating has chosen to adopt damaging, disappointing and destroying approach to push the economy further into vortex of recession,' he said in a series of tweets. PTI ASK/SKC PYK PYK