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Sangh happy, Cong says 'derivative'

BJP insists the Budget favours the weaker sections, its political rivals say it promotes big business

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The political reactions to the Narendra Modi-Budget of 2014-15 were more interesting than the Budget itself. While the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has an unfettered majority in the Lok Sabha for the first time ever, had the chance to put its stamp on a brand of economics it could have called BJP-nomics, its elected members strongly contested suggestions that the Budget was pro-private sector, in an attempt to avoid accusations of the party being a lackey of big business.

The BJP leadership bent over backwards to stress how the Budget is tailored to meet the needs of the middle classes, of its being pro-farmer, pro-women and pro-small business – sections of the population the party believes to be its supporters.

Even Prime Minister said as much: “This Budget is a new ray of hope for the poor and downtrodden sections of society,” he said. “It will give an impetus to jan bhagidari (people’s participation) and jan shakti (people power).”

He described the Budget as the sanjeevani’ (panacea) for the moribund economy.

Budgetary announcements like the Rs 500-crore allocation to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits, securing pension benefits for retired defence personnel, schemes to invigorate small and medium enterprises and steps to boost handlooms have come in for praise from the affiliates, including the

The Budget also pleased the Sangh for having introduced or named central schemes after some of its icons, among them Shyama Prasad Mukherji (Rurban Mission) and Deendayal Upadhyaya (Gram Jyoti Yojana). It also attempted to consolidate the Sangh’s attempts to appropriate other icons like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and The Budget allocated Rs 200 crore for Patel’s ‘Statue of Unity’ in Gujarat, while proposing to set up the Centre for Excellence in Humanities in Madhya Pradesh and the for total sanitation to commemorate 150 years of Gandhi’s birth in 2019.

Ram Madhav of the Rashtriya the Swayamsevak Sangh, who will soon join the BJP, termed Jaitley’s Budget as a great one “for the poor, farmers and SMEs”. “It is truly a budget for entire India,” he said. Home Minister lauded schemes like Skill India for their potential to create job opportunities, while new BJP president said the Budget “sets the pace for greater financial inclusion of the weaker sections”.

While BJP insiders said the Budget would send the right message to the middle class with the raising of the income-tax exemption limit, the party’s allies too were happy with the finance minister. Shiv Sena's tweeted his thanks to Jaitley “for … establishing an in Maharashtra”, which he said he had requested of Human Resource Development Minister

The Congress, predictably, dismissed the Budget as “derivative”. Senior party leader and former minister of corporate affairs said the Budget had “zero vision”. “We expected reform measures, but there is just status quo,” he said. “There should have been reforms in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. Also, there is nothing on the Goods and Services Tax and the Direct Tax Code. It also appears to be a ‘100 crore’ budget [the figure of Rs 100 crore was announced 29 times in Jaitley’s speech] with major schemes being allocated only Rs 50-100 crore.”

Deputy Leader of the in the Rajya Sabha and former commerce minister said, “It is clear that the focus of this government is primarily on promoting private enterprise and urbanisation.” Interestingly, Biju Janata Dal’s BJ Panda welcomed the Budget describing it as “a step in the right direction.” The and BJP are at daggers drawn in Panda’s home state of Odisha.

First Published: Fri, July 11 2014. 00:38 IST