The Opposition parties on Wednesday said that the Union Budget 2023-’24 has failed to address key issues like unemployment and inflation in the country.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on described the Budget as opportunistic while addressing an event at Bolpur in Birbhum district.

“It [budget] will benefit only one class of people,” the Trinamool Congress leader said. “This Budget will not help address the country’s unemployment issue. It has been prepared with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.” Banerjee added that the changes in the income tax slabs will not help anyone.

Former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram termed the budget callous saying that it did not address the issues of unemployment, poverty, inequality or equity.

“No indirect taxes have been reduced,” Chidambaram pointed out. “There is no cut in the cruel and irrational GST [Goods and Services Tax] rates. There is no reduction in the prices of petrol, diesel, cement, fertilizers etc. There is no cut in the numerous surcharges and cesses which are, anyway, not shared with the state governments.”

He added: “Besides, making the new tax regime the default option is grossly unfair and will rob the ordinary tax payer of the meagre social security that he may get under the old tax regime.”

Chidambaram also alleged that the government is determined to push the fortunes of gift city Ahmedabad at the cost of other commercial and financial centres in the country.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that Wednesday’s budget announcement lacked vision to create jobs, tackle inflation and stem inequality.

“1% richest own 40% wealth, 50% poorest pay 64% of GST, 42% youth are unemployed- yet, PM doesn’t Care,” Gandhi tweeted. “This Budget proves Govt has NO roadmap to build India’s future.”

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The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said that the Budget should have addressed the central issues of increasing people’s purchasing power with job generation and boosting the growth of domestic demand.

“When the unemployment rate is at a historic high the budget reduces the MGNREGS allocation by 33%,” the party said. “Food subsidy is cut by Rs 90,000 crores. Fertilizer subsidy by Rs 50,000 crores and petroleum subsidy by Rs 6,900 crores. Despite the devastation caused by the pandemic Rs 9,255 crores of the last year’s allocation for health remained unspent. Likewise, Rs 4,297 crores remained unspent in the education budget.”

The party also cited the Oxfam report to highlight how the Centre has cut down government expenditures to reduce the fiscal deficit while giving further tax concession to the rich.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Budget will fulfil dreams of the aspirational society, including the poor, the middle-class and farmers, reports ANI.

BJP leader and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Adityanath hailed the Budget as another step towards making India an economic superpower.

“The Budget talks about the vision for New India, the country’s prosperity and aims to serve 130 crore Indians,” Adityanath said. “The Budget will fulfil the expectations and aspirations of all sections of society, including the poor, farmers, youth and women.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that “this all-inclusive and visionary Budget will give further impetus to the resolve of the Modi government for a self-reliant India, taking every section along”.