Khattar’s touch: Budget on tablets, shloks & liberal allocations

Khattar’s touch: Budget on tablets, shloks & liberal allocations

Sushil Manav

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s distinct stamp was evident on his marathon two-and-a-half hour presentation speech and maiden Budget.

While the former RSS ideologue liberally peppered his Hindi speech with Sanskrit shloks, the Budget was for the first time paper-free and available on a tablet device that MLAs accessed online and exhibited a liberal approach in allocations for sectors such as education, health and skill development that are intrinsic to human development.

Though the Budget has no mention of alliance partner Jannayak Janta Party's key poll promise to reserve 75 per cent jobs in the private sector for the local youth, Khattar talked about developing entrepreneurial skills of unemployed youth to make them job providers rather than job seekers.

Khattar claimed to have incorporated the tax system described in the 18th shlok of Mahakavya Raghuvaṃśa of Mahakavi Kalidasa. It says that a Suryavanshi king takes only some part of the people’s income as tax, that too for the sake of a welfare state, indeed, like the Sun taking earthly water drops only to indemnify her with multiples of raindrops thereof.

While discussing the state’s fiscal position, the CM recited a shlok from Kautilya Arthashastra book-2 and said it was the topmost duty of any elected government to utilise every single penny for public welfare and public interest and curb its unnecessary expenditure with complete responsibility.

In the 34th shlok of chapter 7 of Kautilya’s Arthashastra book-2, there is a principle of balancing income and expenditure, he said. “In simple language, the meaning of this principle is that the ruler should keep matching the remaining money by compiling the various receipts and expenses that occur in the treasury on the scheduled dates,” he added.

Khattar said the Budget had been prepared with focus on education, health, security and self-reliance. For the past some time, Khattar had been holding meetings with various stakeholders and had claimed these suggestions will be incorporated in the Budget.

“For two consecutive months, I held eight pre-Budget consultation sessions and received suggestions from people. The MLAs made as many as 620 suggestions during the three-day session held in Panchkula. Apart from this, I received many other suggestions in writing through various letters and memorandums,” Khattar said.

“Overall, more than 250 suggestions were directly related to the Budget and I am happy that I have been able to make provision for more than 70% of the suggestions received,” he said.

Khattar’s claims, however, were rejected by Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda who described the Budget as complete flop show. “The debt of the state government has increased manifold in the past five years. Enjoy luxuries with borrowed money seems to be Khattar’s only principle,” Hooda said.

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