The government’s Budget is not a “populist Budget, but a popular one”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in an interview to the Hindustan Times published on Sunday.
“It is not a populist Budget, but a popular one because it blends both economy and politics,” he said.
This was the BJP government’s last full-year Budget ahead of the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2019. Eight states also go to the polls in 2018.
“This government has brought about a lot of changes for the betterment of this country,” said Jaitley. “I think we need to consolidate on all these gains. We also need to ensure that even though there is high acceptability of the central government and the prime minister, we do not allow any anti-incumbency of any of our state governments.”
Addressing claims that the Budget does not do enough for the middle class, Jaitley said: “There is not a single Budget of mine in which the middle class has not got some relief. Even in this Budget, I gave a Rs 8,000-crore relief to the salaried class and a Rs 4,000-crore relief to senior citizens.”
The 2018-’19 Budget also has several agriculture-focused announcements. The farm crisis and creation of jobs are important concerns, and the government is planning to address both, Jaitley said.
In another interview to Zee Business, Jaitley said the poor has the first right to the government’s money.