With the Loksabha elections around the corner, Interim Union Budget 2019 was supposed to be the last opportunity for the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government to do something to fulfil at least a part of the poll promises to the electorate. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has suffered body blows in the recently held assembly elections to five states. Observers believed that the BJP might be forced to announce some measures to placate farmers and workers who have been joining massive protests across the country against the policies of the Central Government.
The Interim Budget 2019 was presented by Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal in the absence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who has gone to the United States for treatment. It was widely speculated that the Government might resort to declaring farm loan waivers, new welfare schemes and tax sops to woo the voters. But doing so would require higher fiscal outlays, which might add to the fiscal deficit and worry conservative sections and financial interests which are seen to be supportive of the BJP. Economists were eager to see how the Minister in charge of finance, who has worked as the BJP Treasurer, would tackle the situation.
Meanwhile, the Working People’s Charter - a platform under which groups like Action Aid and Delhi Rozi Roti Andolan has united - has organised a protest in the capital city on the Budget day. Thousands of workers marched to parliament, protesting against the anti-worker policies of the Narendra Modi Government. The workers alleged that Narendra Modi Government follows anti-worker policies and have demanded to raise the minimum wage to Rs. 18000 per month, strengthen the social security of working class and to ensure the right to housing for all.
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