New Delhi: Opposition parties and Opposition-led state governments on Monday slammed the Union Budget proposals for “betraying” the people at a time when large sections are reeling under the impact of the pandemic and ill-planned lockdown that has led to large-scale joblessness. Also, they termed the agri cess as ‘vindictive’ against farmers who continue to protest against the new agri laws and demand legal guarantee for minimum support prices for crops.
Cruel Blow to Federalism, Average Citizens: Congress
Terming the Budget as a "let down like never before", the Congress on said that it will “unravel soon”and described the imposition of cess on petrol and diesel as a "vengeful act" against the thousands of farmers who took out the tractor rally.
The party said it was a case of "wrong diagnosis and prescription", and that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could have been "brave" by extending help to the poor, but chose to be "timid".
Attacking the Centre, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Narendra Modi government plans to handover India's assets to crony capitalists while his party colleague P Chidambaram said Sitharaman "deceived" those who were listening to her speech, especially the MPs, had no clue that she has imposed cess on a large number of products including petroleum and diesel -- Rs 2.50 on petrol per litre and Rs 4.00 on diesel per litre.
"It was a vengeful act against the thousands of farmers who took out the longest tractor rally in history. It was also a cruel blow to federalism because the states do not get a share of the revenue from cess," the former finance minister said while addressing a press conference.
"She deceived the people of India, especially the poor, the working class, the migrants, the farmers, the industrial units that had been closed down permanently, and those who had lost their jobs, both regular and informal, and are still looking for jobs," he alleged.
Reading out a party statement, Chidambaram said Sitharaman did not mention defence at all, "as if the Chinese had vacated occupied Indian territory".
"The FM had promised a budget 'like never before'. Her mandate was to present an annual statement of revenue and expenditure for 2021-22. What she did, however, was to estimate expenditure over 2 years or 3 years or 4 years or, in one case, over 5 years," he said.
She made a reference to the prime minister 14 times and to the farmers 11 times, Chidambaram pointed out.
"The budget was a let-down like never before. This budget, like the previous one, will unravel sooner than you think," he said.
A Gigantic Hoax on the People: CPI(M)
Terming the Union Budget as a “colossal betrayal of the people”, the polit bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) , said it was a “classic illustration of the Modi Government’s unshakeable commitment to promoting the interests of a handful of big business houses at the expense of increasing distress and misery for the working people.”
Criticising the government for its “refusal” to increase public expenditure notwithstanding its bombastic claims, the Left party pointed out that Centre’s budgeted total expenditure of Rs 34.8 lakh crore in 2021-22 was identical in nominal terms to that in 2020-21, which which amounts to slashing expenditure in real terms.
The CPI(M) pointed out that apparent increase of fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 9.5% in the year now ending (2020-2021), which the government pinned on increased expenditure, was primarily on account of collapsing revenues.
“This collapse happened despite the Government’s cynical imposition of a heavy additional tax burden on common people through the sharp increase in taxes on petrol and diesel,“ it added.
The CPI(M) also noted that the Finance Minister’s speech did not reveal that under several heads, expenditure in 2020-21 was actually lower than budgeted. “These include Agriculture, Education, Social Welfare, Women and Child Development, Scientific Departments, Urban Development, Pensions and Disability Affairs etc. Not only are these cuts being carried forward into the next year too, even in the few heads of increased expenditure in 2020-21, like Health and Rural Development, the Budget proposes to cut down expenditures,” it said.
The Left party also crticised the Modi government’s move to sell off India’s national assets and privatise even profit-making public sector companies.
“The monetisation project announced in the budget included sale of valuable land held at present by public sector companies. The target is to mobilise 1.75 lakh crores through disinvestment. The increase in FDI in insurance to 74 per cent is highly objectionable. This drive for privatisation is a subversion of the national interests and a mockery of the slogan of atma nirbharta,” it added.
Communist Party of India leader Binoy Viswam said: "Given the severe crisis in consumption and employment, especially in the rural areas, the lack of any redressal of the MNREGA scheme is deeply worrying and signals the true intention of the government that is focused on making the rich richer while the poor struggle to survive.
"What is clear from this budget is that this government pays only lip service to the plight of the poor and workers while ensuring the interests of large corporates and big business," the Member of Parliament said.
Complete Disregard for Farmers’ Demands: AIKS
The All India Kisan Sabha, which is part of the ongoing countrywide farmer protests, said the Budget had almost nothing new to offer for Indian agriculture.
“It has completely disregarded the farmers protesting across the country demanding fair remuneration of their toil and labour. In 2020-21, the budgeted allocation for agriculture was Rs 1,34,349 crore, which has fallen to Rs 1,22,961 crore in 2021-22. There has been an overall reduction of 8% in allocations towards agriculture even in nominal terms”, it said in a statement.
The AIKS pointed out that spending for most schemes in agriculture declined in 2020-21 and show no promise of rise in 2021-22. Citing the example of PM-Kisan scheme, which was provided a budget allocation of Rs 75,000 crore in 2020-21, it said the actual expenditure was only Rs 65,000 crore.
“This shows the hollowness of the government’s claim that it used the PM-Kisan scheme to help farmers during the lockdown period,” it added.
It said the Finance Minister continued to “state the falsehood that MSPs are already 50% above the cost of production.”
“The truth is that the government considers the A2+FL cost as the cost of production and not the C2 cost as suggested by the Swaminathan Commission. It is also a fact that a majority of farmers in India are still outside the procurement network, and are denied access to MSPs. However, the government has announced no plan on how to expand the access of farmers to procurement or MSP,” it said, accusing her of trying to mislead by comparing in her Budget speech procurement of last year with procurement in 2013-14, when open market prices were higher than the MSP for many crops and farmers did not need to sell the produce to government agencies.
Move Toward Privatisation: NCP; Maharashtra Ignored: Sena
The ruling Shiv Sena said Maharashtra was ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22 while its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) termed the annual financial plan as "disappointing" and a move towards "privatisation".
"The Budget presented by the Central government is very disappointing. It seems a move towards privatisation. The common man has been neglected in this budget. Similarly, no concrete decision has been made for farmers," state Home Minister and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh told reporters in Nagpur.
NCP's Maharashtra chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said Sitharaman used flowery words in her Budget speech to hide the "real intention of privatisation".
He also pointed out that Budget didn't provide any specific roadmap to tackle unemployment.
In Mumbai, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said "Maharashtra is not seen in this Budget".
He said Maharashtra, and particularly Mumbai, makes a huge contribution in terms of revenue for the country, but the state has always faced injustice.
To a question whether some states have received more allocations considering upcoming polls there, Raut said in that case, the financial plan cannot be called as a national budget, but that of a political party.
Anti-People Budget by BJP: Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Union Budget as "anti-people" aimed at deceiving the masses and said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) talks about nationalism, but in practice, they are the ones who are selling resources of the nation to the private players.
"This is a budget to deceive the masses. It's an anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-country budget," Banerjee said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of Uttar Banga Utsav in Siliguri.
"During COVID period we paid for the transportation of migrant workers. But, they (BJP) have money for using chartered planes to fly corrupt leaders to New Delhi. This only shows their true colour," she said.
Delhi Continues to get Step-Motherly Treatment: Sisodia
Aam Aadmi Party leader and Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, said Delhi continues to get “step-motherly treatment from the Government of India,” pointing out that the Budget sees no increase in share in Central taxes.
Sisodia said the BJP-ruled Central government again disappointed Delhi as it received only Rs 325 crore while citizens of Delhi pay Rs 1.5 lakh crore as tax.
"The BJP government did not even give a single penny to the BJP-ruled MCD, while it has given Rs 2 lakh crore to the municipal corporations across the country. During the MCD election, BJP had said that they would bring the money directly from the Center to the MCD," he added.