NEW DELHI: While leaders of the ruling BJP-led NDA are gloating over the budget
presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, some opposition leaders unexpectedly have also praised it.
On expected lines, while the leaders of the BJP and their coalition partners profusely heaped encomiums on Budget 2023
, their counterparts in the opposition parties shot criticisms in the hardest terms. However, there were some opposition leaders who applauded the budget.
There were divisions in some opposition parties such as the Congress and Mayawati-led BSP. While Congress leaders such as Rahul Gandhi
and P Chidambaram censured the budget, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor and Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, had few words of praise for the annual document.
Rahul, whose tweet was full of barbs and innuendos, said, “‘Mitr Kaal’ Budget has: NO vision to create Jobs, NO plan to tackle Mehngai, NO intent to stem Inequality. 1% richest own 40% wealth, 50% poorest pay 64% of GST, 42% youth are unemployed – yet, PM doesn’t Care! This Budget proves the Govt has NO roadmap to build India’s future.”
Chidambaram, who addressed media persons from Congress headquarters 24, Akbar Road in Delhi, said, “Who has benefited from this budget? Certainly, not the poor, not the unemployed youth, not the bulk of the taxpayers, not the homemaker. The wealth being accumulated in the hands of the 1% of the population. Certainly, not YOU!”
On the other hand, while talking to a section of media persons outside Parliament, Tharoor said, “The tax exemptions are a good thing. But no one heard anything about NREGA. What has been done for the unemployed people in the villages? Actually, we did not even hear the word unemployment, which is such a massive issue in our country. So was the case with price rise. They will give tax exemptions but whatever they will give, you will have to spend them due to price rise.”
Regarding the announcements made for sections such as the youth and women, the Lok Sabha MP said the government’s intention was clean. “I do not want to speak anything against it. The goal is good. But the ball has to reach the goal. I have heard so much in the last eight years. But the target is not getting fulfilled.”
Karti also welcomed the budget in a limited manner. “I am a believer in a low tax regime. So, any tax cuts are welcome because giving more money into the hands of the people is the best way to boost the economy,” he said.
Like the Congress, there were contrasting opinions about the budget even in the BSP. While its supremo summarily wrote it off, party’s Lok Sabha MP from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh Malook Nagar effusively welcomed it.
In a series of four tweets in Hindi, Mayawati said, “Like before in the country, the budgets of the central government kept on coming and going in the last nine years. Announcements, promises, claims and expectations kept being showered, but they all proved dishonest when India’s middle class faced inflation, poverty and unemployment, and became lower middle class. Very sad.
“This year’s budget is also not much different. No government points out the shortcomings of last year. But it makes a slew of new promises again. Whereas as per the ground reality, the lives of more than 100 crore people remain at stake as it was before. People live by hope. But why false hope?” she said.
However, Nagar’s views were in sharp contrast to that of his party supremo. He called the budget a hit and compared it with recently-released Shah Rukh Khan starrer Bollywood movie Pathaan.
Nagar said outside Parliament: “The relief given to the common man is as hit as the Pathaan movie. The good part of the budget is the slabs in which the salaried people have been divided will encourage more people to file returns. All money will circulate in the banks, the country’s economy will strengthen and Modi ji’s dream of making India a 5 trillion economy seems to be coming true.”
While Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao is one of the staunchest critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, his daughter and BRS MLC Kavitha Kalvakuntla did have a few words of applause for the budget. “The current situation of the country where the value of the rupee is devalued, where people are getting sacked from their jobs continuously. When we look at this scenario, we were hoping that the government will come up and announce a comprehensive and robust strategy for the growth of the economy of this country. But unfortunately that is not the case.
“Especially when we look at core sectors like MSP and how the government is going to infuse more funds to control inflation and price rise. None of that is mentioned. So over and all, other than the tax exemption that they gave from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, nothing else seems to be relevant to the people,” Kavitha said.
Similarly, while Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction) may be in alliance with Sharad Pawar-led NCP and the Congress, its Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Thackeray commended the provisions made for women in the budget.
Priyanka said, “A history has been created in the country today. Finance minister is a woman. The president, who addressed (joint sitting of Parliament) yesterday, is also a woman. Both of them together talked about women empowerment. Four-five paragraphs in her (Sitharaman’s budget speech) are about women and women power. The prime minister also says so from the Red Fort and otherwise also. But what was expected was that the falling participation of women in the labour markets would be addressed.”
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik also welcomed the budget. He said, “The budget has some good aspects which need to be appreciated including increased capital investment, support for drinking water initiatives and increasing rural housing. These will accelerate growth as well as have a social impact in rural areas.
“I welcome the PM’s trust in millets. Odisha millet mission is a pioneering initiative. I’m happy that millet was given importance in the budget. Focus on new-world technologies like artificial intelligence is appreciable. The focus on primitive tribal groups is a welcome step,” the Odisha CM added.
BJD Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha Amar Patnaik, like his state chief minister, applauded the budget. The party national spokesperson and head of its IT wing said, “Three good things about the budget are that it has charted a very clear and green growth path for the country, it has made energy transition pathway very clear and the third thing which could be commended about the budget is that it has looked at the taxation regime also in a way which has already been aired before by the (Raja) Chelliah (Tax Reforms) Committee in the past that we have to withdraw exemptions.”