Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday hailed the government for the Interim Budger 2019 and came down heavily on the Congress-led UPA for not doing much for farmers in its 10 years in power. "What did the UPA do in their 10 years in power? A one-time loan waiver of Rs 70,000 crore. Only Rs 52,000 crore were waived off and the CAG report was that out of that Rs 52,000 crore a significant part of money went to traders and businessmen and not to farmers," Jaitley said.
Speaking to news agency ANI in New York, where the former finance minister is undergoing treatment, asked the Opposition not to "shed crocodile tears" after it criticised the government over Rs 6,000 fixed income per year for farmers who own upto two hectares of land.
Arun Jaitley in New York on opposition's criticism of Rs 6000/year for farmers having upto 2 hectares of land: Please don't shed crocodile tears today for farmers. If opposition also has several govts let them announce similar schemes. I'm sure other govts will also consider this pic.twitter.com/SZEc93YPls— ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2019
"Please don't shed crocodile tears today for farmers. If opposition also has several governments let them announce similar schemes. I'm sure other governments will also consider this," he said.
"This is a huge amount that we are doing. We are now as against the one-time loan waiver of Rs 52,000 crore. This is Rs 75,000 crore in the first year itself. I'm sure it will expand in future years," he said.
Jaitley added: "Now, look at what we have been doing. Rural roads - 91% completed, rural housing - 2022 everyone will have a roof, 98.7% people in rural areas now have sanitation, every willing home is having electricity, every man has switched over the cooking methods."
Responding to the Opposition's allegation that it was an "election budget," Jaitley said: "Mr Chidambaram on a number of products, including engineering products and automobiles, gave a duty rebate. The same argument can be taken now. Budgets are an essential part of any parliamentary democracy so are elections."
Leaders of the BJP-led ruling alliance lavished praise on the Union Budget with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying it benefits every section of society and will boost growth but the Opposition scorned its populist push, calling it the saffron party's poll manifesto and election 'jumla'.
With some Union ministers hailing the budget as a "surgical strike" on the Opposition, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi mocked their show of euphoria, saying surgical strike will happen on Modi and his government on issues like the Rafale deal, jobs and demonetisation during the general election.
Former finance minister P Chidambram mocked the budget as an account for votes and not a vote on account as it should have been. The NDA leaders expressed hope that the budget's sops for the middle class, farmers and small industries will boost their electoral prospects and their optimism was visible in their praise for these. BJP chief Amit Shah said the interim budget "benefits" all sections of the society and asserted that it has underscored the Modi government's dedication to the aspirations of the country's youth, farmers and the poor.
He highlighted the increase in income tax exemption to Rs 5 lakh, a move aimed at wooing the salaried middle class, and annual payout of Rs 6,000 to farmers to drive home his point.
Modi said over 12 crore farmers, three crore middle class families and 30-40 crore workers employed in unorganised sector will benefit from the budget which, he asserted, is merely a "trailer" of what will guide India towards prosperity after the elections, expected in April-May. This budget will boost the efforts of 130 crore citizens in realising the goal of a new India, he said.
(With PTI inputs)