Prime Minister Narendra Modi was all praise for the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday. He said the undertone of the Budget was that it was committed to fulfil the dreams of all citizens. “In many ways, this Budget will facilitate the changes that our country is going through,” Modi said.
Calling the Budget a pro-poor one, he said the “uttam [perfect] Budget” will strengthen the position of the poor. “The aim of the government is to double the income of farmers. This Budget is, yet again, devoted to the well-being of villages, farmers and the poor,” Modi said. Besides farmers, the Budget focused on Dalits and minorities, the prime minister said, adding that it also reflected the Centre’s commitment to eliminate corruption and black money.
Modi also welcomed the decision to do away with the 92-year-old practice of having a separate Railway Budget and merge it with the Union Budget. “It will give an impetus to the transport sector’s growth. The Railway Budget has focused on the railway safety fund,” he said, further highlighting the gains small businesses and the housing sector would make from this Budget.
The Congress, on the other hand, dubbed it as a “sher-o-shayari ka Budget”. “There is nothing for farmers and the youth. We were expecting fireworks, but instead got a damp squib,” party vice president Rahul Gandhi told ANI.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the Budget was a rhetorical one with major loopholes. “The Budget numbers do not seem to add up as there has been huge expansion in government spending on schemes,” he said, adding that the merged Railway Budget only “got a cursory mention”.
While Gandhi gave his assurance that the party would support any measure to clean up political funding, Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury questioned BJP’s source of funding. “How are they fighting the UP elections? Did they get donations in cheques or digital payment?” she told ANI.
During his speech, Jaitley had said that henceforth, political parties will be entitled to receive donations only by cheque or digitally. To boost transparency, cash donations were capped at Rs 2,000 per donor.