Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has termed the final budget of his government's present term a “trailer” of what would guide India to prosperity after the April-May parliamentary elections.
The budget, reflecting attempts to woo voters of farming communities, the unorganised sector and salaried class, has been described by the opposition parties as a “rhetoric” which cannot be implemented.
Soon after the budget's presentation in parliament on Friday, Modi said it “is a major step towards making India a powerful nation with the schemes touching the lives of the people”.
“This budget takes care of the interest of several sectors, from farmer welfare to middle class, from income tax relief to infrastructure, from manufacturing to medium, small and micro enterprises from housing to healthcare and from the increased pace of development to the New India,” he said.
Over 12 crore farmers and their families, 3 crore middleclass taxpayers and 30-40 crore laborers will be directly benefitted, Modi said.
The “government has shown its commitment to provide support and give wings to the hopes and aspirations of this rising middle class” by proposing income tax rebate and other tax reliefs, he said.
A proposal for providing small and marginal farmers Rs 6,000 per month will help those owning 5 acres of land or less, said Modi, adding that it was a “historic step” in the post-independence period towards the welfare of farmers.
He said different plans of past governments had just 2-3 crore well-to-do farmers in their ambits while a large number of growers were left out.
The Indian prime minister said the budget incorporated schemes keeping in mind the requirements and targets till the next decade's end, energising the 130 crore people of the country towards meeting the targets of New India.
“It is all pervasive, touching the lives of all and all inclusive. It is dedicated to the development of all,” Modi added.
On the other hand, opposition parties dismissed the budget, saying it was a series of “jumla” (rhetoric) of the Modi government to “mislead” the people ahead of the polls.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the budget plans cannot be taken up after the Election Commission announces the Lok Sabha election dates and therefore announcements made in it “have no value”.
Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), alleged in a series of tweets that a farming family of five being given Rs 3 per day as largesse makes it evident how “disconnected” the government was from the “rural crisis of its making”.
Dubbing it a “disappointment”, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati in a statement said the budget was a “jumlabaazi” which “is far from finding solutions to existing problems”.
Mayawati's alliance partner and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav said, “There is no relief for majority landless farmers and labourers in the budget. The Modi government is concerned only about collecting votes and not about the people.”
Rashtriya Janata Dal Spokesperson Manoj Jha said, “People expected a surgery but the government could not imagine beyond Band-Aid.”
Calling it an “election budget”, D Raja, senior leader of the Communist Party of India, said, “It is an exercise to cover up failures…The macro-level claims do not match with the micro-level realities.”