Budget 2020

Opposition jeers, but will Modi have last laugh?

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 01, 2019 Published on February 01, 2019


The Opposition benches on Friday were bursting with energy, with loud guffaws, comments flowing and placards questioning the government on the latest unemployment figures during the presentation of the interim Budget. But they were numbed by two mega announcements — assured income support for farmers and full tax rebate for taxpayers with income up to ₹5 lakh.

Doling out sops

Then it was the turn of the treasury benches, loud chants of “Modi, Modi” erupted when Finance Minister Piyush Goyal exempted people with an earning of up to ₹5 lakh from payment of Income Tax, announced an annual cash dole-out of ₹6,000 to small farmers and provided a monthly pension of ₹3,000 to workers in the unorganised sector.

The Opposition was silent till Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge admonished the ruling party MPs. “This is not your internal party meeting. Show some respect and decorum to Parliament,” Kharge said. Barring these breaks, the House witnessed loud sloganeering and the Congress MPs displayed placards, questioning the government on the latest job data that shows that unemployment is at a four-decade high. “How’s the Jobs,” read the Congress posters with the copies of the news report which exposed the NSSO data on unemployment. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s close confidant Rajiv Satav walked across to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seat to deliver a poster to him.

The Finance Minister was heckled loudly by the MPs of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party when he said, “The poor have the first right over natural resources. The government has provided reservation for the poor.” SP MP Dharmendra Yadav stood up and interrupted, “Do not mislead the country. Where is the caste census?”

Congress’ Sushmita Deb butted-in while Goyal was announcing the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog to improve sustainable genetic upgrading and productivity of cows. “What about the bakris (goats)?” she said while Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs laughed in unison.

While the treasury benches celebrated a populist Budget where the government has opened its purse strings for every section of the society, the Opposition strained to dub it as an election stunt. The loudest were the TMC MPs who laughed loud whenever a big announcement was made, prompting the Finance Minister to quip, “Is there a Ramlila on?”

TMC MP Idris Ali sang intermittently throughout the FM’s speech, implying that the Budget announcements amounted to nothing but false promises. “Jhoot bole kawwa kate (don’t lie),” Ali sang. And again, “Waada tera waada (oh, all your false promises).”

A pat on back

Goyal received a resounding applause from his colleagues, with the Prime Minister thumping him on the back. In Parliament, most ruling MPs and ministers were excited by the Budget, asserting that this was the “Brahmastra that will get us 300 seats”.

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Published on February 01, 2019
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