HomeIndiaNATIONALTo Opposition's 'Budget Forgot Poor' Argument, Union Minister's Rebuttal

To Opposition’s ‘Budget Forgot Poor’ Argument, Union Minister’s Rebuttal

Union Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw brushed aside the opposition’s claim that the Union budget presented today does not have anything for the poor or the unemployed, with a big picture argument.  

“I am really surprised if the Opposition is saying this. During Covid, when the whole world was reeling under uncertainty, it was Prime Minister Narendra  Modi who ensured that 800 million people get food grain, all facilities, free vaccinations on time and people who would have otherwise gone into abysmal poverty are today in good condition,” the minister told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

“PM Modi got Jan Dhan accounts for 40 crore people. He got them cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme. Isn’t that inclusive growth? He is giving a tap connection in every house… Imagine the power of Ayushman Bharat, which prevents people from getting back into poverty if a disease happens in the family. If this is not inclusive growth what is?” he added.

The opposition has argued that the last full budget presented today before next year’s general election, does not factor in the poor or underprivileged or hunger and unemployment. A budget for elections with no vision, was how the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party put it.

Congress’s P Chidambaram said in the 90-minute speech, Finance Minister “Nirmala Sitharaman “did not think it necessary to utter even once the words ‘unemployment, poverty, inequality’. She said the word ‘poor’ twice,” Mr Chidambaram told NDTV.

“Now what is there in this budget for the poor? Has indirect taxes been cut? Has GST been cut? Has the prices of petrol, diesel, fertiliser, cement, which poor middle classes use, have been cut?” he had said.

Shashi Tharoor, another former Union Minister of the Congress, argued that while capital expenditure was being expanded and digitisation was going on for the last few years, there has been no change in unemployment figures. Around 16 per cent of young people across the country are unemployed, he said.

“The very things the government was talking about with pride are potential problems,” he said, pointing out that the government did not spend 22,000 crores of capex money last year. “Can they now add 2.5 lakh crores to it and spend it? This government has a record of announcing targets and failing to fulfill,” he said.

Mr Tharoor also pointed out that the big outlay on infrastructure and other areas, including railways, are coming from cuts in the social sector.

“You seeing a massive cut in women and child development, integrated child development, minority affairs, labour affairs, and most shocking of all there is a record low figure in MNREGA, which has been slashed to 60,000 crores,” he said.

The need for Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee  Scheme — a flagship programme of the UPA government — has been expanding over the since the pandemic years, he said.

Mr Vaishnaw argued that when the UPA was in power, “India became one of the fragile five economies”.

“In the last eight years, PM Modi has brought that fragile economy into a bright spot despite the global headwinds,” he added.


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