Opposition leaders on Thursday criticised Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s interim Budget for being high on rhetoric, low on facts and failing to address specific problems of the economy.

At 58 minutes, it was Sitharaman’s shortest Budget speech.

With the term of the current Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government ending in coming months, a full Budget for the next fiscal will likely be presented in July, after a new government is sworn in.

An interim Budget only outlines the expected income and expenditure of the Centre for the upcoming financial year. Interim Budgets typically do not include significant policy changes or announcements of new major schemes.

“As usual [it had] a lot of rhetorical language,” said Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. “Very little concrete on implementation. [The finance minister] talked about foreign investment without acknowledging that that investment has come down significantly as a percentage of GDP [gross domestic product].”

Tharoor added that the speech was “couched in vague language like ‘confidence’ and ‘hope’ and so on” and made serious omissions, from failing to address performance of the Production Linked Incentive schemes for domestic manufacturing – which is utilising a significant portion of government funds – to record unemployment rates and declining participation of women in the labour force.

“I must say that this is going to be a very disappointing speech in terms of being couched entirely in generalities and without enough substance, nor any willingness to address the specific problems of the economy,” Tharoor told ANI.

Priyanka Chaturvedi, an MP from the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction, criticised Sitharaman for saying that the government had focused on “GYAN”, which stands for gareeb (poor), youth, annadata (farmer) and nari (woman).

“As we have been seeing for the last 10 years, there is nothing in the Budget for these groups,” Chaturvedi said, adding that the Budget had “poured cold water on the expectations of the public”.

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said that the interim Budget was a “mere administrative exercise” to ensure that the Union government has the money to carry on its business until a new government is formed after the Lok Sabha elections.

“That’s what they have done,” Chidambaram added. “Except for making their obligatory self-congratulatory, self-praise phrases, nothing else is there and nothing should have been there, and rightly so.”

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Dayanidhi Maran highlighted Sitharaman’s announcement that the government will present a white paper on the state of the economy in Parliament soon, detailing the progress of the economy before the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

“One would instead ask, what was your government doing in the last 10 years?,” Maran said. “Nothing much has happened. The people of the country are already disappointed.”

Congress MP Manish Tewari expressed concern over the amount of the government’s Budget deficit, which stands at Rs 18 lakh crore. “This means that the government is borrowing for its expenditure and this number is only going to increase next year,” Tewari said.

Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal highlighted the alleged arrogance of the BJP-led Union government in saying that it would also present the more comprehensive Budget in July. “You cannot take any election for granted,” Badal said, according to Mint.

The Trinamool Congress said that the BJP has presented a “hollow Budget” that fails to benefit poor, women and students.

“They are claiming that poor people have come out of poverty,” Trinamool Congress leader Chandrima Bhattacharya said. “If this is the case why does the EWS [economically weaker section] exists? Today’s Budget will not benefit the common people, students, youth, women and farmers.”

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also echoed the views of other Opposition parties.

“Despite the tall claims made by the finance minister about the state of India’s economy, the interim Union Budget for 2024-’25 reveals the grim economic situation confronting India’s working people and the vicious face of the Modi government’s conception of ‘development’ which is designed to make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer,” the party said.