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The response of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated outfits to the first full Budget of the Narendra Modi government ranged from open criticism to quiet optimism. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has slammed the Budget as “pro-corporate” and “anti-working class”. The BMS, the largest central trade union, on Monday held a countrywide protest against the Budget.
But the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) have welcomed several budgetary measures, while calling for more measures that help the farm and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sectors in the subsequent Budgets of the National Democratic Alliance government.
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“We held protests in each of the state capitals, including at Jantar Mantar in Delhi,” BMS General Secretary Vrijesh Upadhyay said. The BMS has faulted the government for reducing the corporate tax, abolishing wealth tax but with no income tax relief to the salaried class or any increase in honorarium to Aanganwadi workers.
The BMS has cautioned the government against allowing private insurance companies a play in the unclaimed Employees Provident Fund deposits. It said the reduction in customs duty of 22 items would lead to unemployment and closure of industries. “The working class was looking for ‘achhe din’ (better days), which have not arrived so far,” Upadhyay said.
SJM national co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said the finance minister was constrained by the resource crunch because of the sudden hike in the states’ share of central taxes. He said the SJM had demanded a “paradigm shift” in reduction of not just corporate exemptions but also rationalisation in excise duty on several items to help the SMEs sector.
“The roadmap to reduce corporate exemptions is a welcome step but reduction in corporate tax shouldn’t have been done as corporates enjoy several more benefits unlike the SMEs,” Mahajan said. He said doing away with corporate exemptions could become a substantial source of revenue as Rs 5.89 lakh crore has been foregone in exemptions this year, of which only Rs 40,000 crore is towards income tax exemptions and the rest is to the corporate sector.
Mahajan welcomed the announcement to set up a Mudra Bank for SMEs but asked the government to do more for the sector in the years to come.
The BKS, the farm sector outfit of the RSS, said the Budget has offered “hope” in allocating Rs 20,000 crore for creating rural infrastructure but also had some flaws. The outfit said the Budget didn’t do enough for the rural unorganised sector.
OPINION ON BUDGET
- BMS slams it as “pro-corporate”
- SJM gives thumbs up for doing away with corporate exemptions
- SJM demands more to help the SMEs sector
- Kisan union welcomes measures taken for the agriculture sector