Several political cartoonists used the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led administration’s interim Budget, announced on Friday, as fodder for their sketches. They poked holes at the Budget provisions and pointed out that it was only being used as a way to bait voters into re-electing the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal presented the Budget in Parliament on Friday. The Budget was termed an interim one, as 2019 is an election year and the term of the Narendra Modi-led government ends in May. By convention, outgoing governments present an interim Budget of expenditure and receipts instead of a full one.
In his speech, Goyal proposed a full tax rebate for individual taxpayers with annual income up to Rs 5 lakh, pension scheme for workers in the unorganised sector and assured income support for farmers with small landholdings. Several Opposition parties also criticised the government for its “election Budget”.
Most sketches mocked the government’s tax rebate for those earning up to Rs 5 lakh, especially at a time when reports have claimed that a study allegedly kept buried by the government found unemployment at a 45-year-high of 6.1% in 2017-’18 – the first full year after demonetisation. Two independent members of the National Statistical Commission, which prepared the study, resigned earlier this week, reportedly in protest against the government for not publishing it.
Kirtish Bhatt’s cartoon for the BBC takes a dig at the rebate for taxpayers with incomes up to Rs 5 lakh. “He is so thrilled about the tax rebate,” a man holding a placard with the words “unemployment numbers” tells another. “I wonder how excited he would be if he had an income too!”
Other cartoonists likened the Budget proposals to the government providing incentives ahead of the parliamentary elections, which are likely to be held in April and May.
In this BBC Hindi cartoon, Under the words Budget 2019 on the blackboard, it says “farmers+labourers+women+middle class+poor+debtors = voter”. The Hindi tweet adds, “Only if you give handouts will you get votes.”
Cartoonist Irfan depicts two frames of Piyush Goyal with his Budget briefcase. In the first one, Goyal says the tax proposals will be included in the main Budget in July. In the second frame, he adds “See you in July”. While one side of his briefcase has the words “(Interim) Budget 2019”, the other side shows “Vote for BJP”.
In this Satyagrah cartoon, Rajendra Dhrupapkar shows Piyush Goyal handing over a bunch of balloons to a farmer with the words “promises” written on them. He tells the farmer: “Take this. It is the interim budget for the next 10 years” as Modi seems to be looking on.
The government’s promises to farmers were also a recurring theme across many cartoons, while cartoonist Sandeep Adhwaryu mocked the Narendra Modi-led government’s “Achche Din” slogan.
You can follow our complete coverage of Budget 2019 here.