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Budget draws flak from Oppn
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
The ruling Congress party described the budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today as “progressive, inclusive, growth oriented and balanced”, but the opposition as well as parties supporting the government from outside termed it as “routine’, and “inconsequential” and said it had failed to address economic challenges.

Welcoming the budget proposals, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said it offers “a lot of incentives for a lot of people.” Pointing out the special attention paid to infrastructure and the social sectors, he said it focuses on growth with Rs 2,113 crore set aside for new IITs and matching amounts allocated for health and education.

However, CPM politbureau member Sitaram Yechury described the budget as “grossly inadequate in meeting the challenges of economic recession, growing job losses and declining purchasing power of the masses”. He said it “reflects the contradictions within the UPA government, voted to power by the ‘aam aadmi’ but under pressure to go ahead with economic reforms”.

Yechury felt the allocation for Bharat Nirman schemes showed additional investments for expanding infrastructure was inadequate. He also debunked the proposal on guaranteeing food security, saying the government had actually reduced the amount of foodgrains provided to the poor under the Antodaya scheme from the existing 35 kg of rice or wheat per family to 25 kg and had also raised the disbursal price from Rs 2 to Rs 3 per kg.

“The 3% higher allocation for NREGA is totally inadequate,” he remarked.

The CPM leader voiced apprehension over the bulk of government resources being mobilised through divestment of public sector enterprises.

In the same vein CPI leader Gurudas Dasupta said: “Allocations for sectors like infrastructure, power, agriculture and the national rural employment guarantee programme are too little.”

The CPM was also highly critical of the move to grant tax concessions to corporate trusts giving donations to political parties, apprehending that this may further strengthen the hold of corporate houses on political parties.

The BJP, on the other hand, welcomed this proposal even as it described the budget as “disappointing.” The party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said it is “incapable of generating extensive economic activity or attracting fresh investments into the country. It had also been expected the real estate and housing sectors would be given incentives, but sadly this did not appear to be among the finance minister’s priorities”.

Swaraj also criticized the government for not pursuing disinvestment with greater zeal. “After realizing the virtues of PSU disinvestment, even of a minority stake, the budget has fixed a modest target of Rs 1,120 crore - a drop in the ocean of an ever increasing fiscal deficit.”

Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav termed the budget as “sour, tepid and unimpressive”. He said, “While the rail budget was sweet and sour, this budget is only sour.” He also felt farmers had been neglected.

However, RJD chief and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, who had earlier criticized the rail budget, described the union budget as a “balanced one in the current recessionary environment the world over”.

JD-S president and former PM H.D. Deve Gowda remarked, “There was nothing in the budget for farmers. I’m deeply hurt that the farming sector has been ignored.”

Former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal termed the budget as a “good” one, saying, “It has something for every section.”

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