The Opposition parties on Thursday expressed dismay that the UPA government had not listed the challenge of galloping inflation in the general budget for 2010-11 and charged that the “aam aadmi” had been bypassed altogether.
Initiating the debate on the budget, the former Finance Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha was critical of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement that the crisis of inflation had been weathered.
He also questioned the rationale of the government that prices had shot up due to the hype over the failure of the monsoon. “If the hype was there, it is the government which is responsible.”
Mr. Sinha took a dig at the UPA alliance politics where the Congress sought to put the blame on its allies, as in the case of agriculture on Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee for problems in the Railways. “The entire government is responsible, including the Prime Minister who heads the Cabinet Committee on Prices.”
It was not surprising, Mr. Sinha said, that no measures had been suggested to combat inflation as the burning issue had been ignored totally in the budget.
The agrarian crisis also did not get the importance it should have got.
Taking at dig at the Finance Minister, Mr. Sinha said the only good news about the budget was that toy balloons had become cheaper. “When a child cries for a morsel of food, his mother may console him saying that she did not have roti but would promise a toy balloon instead.”
He also made light of the stress being attached to the growth of the economy. “You don't eat GDP. You eat rice and roti. And these are totally out of the reach of the common masses.”
Mr. Sinha also warned that the spiralling prices of essential commodities would impact the growth rate and doubted if the country would achieve a nine per cent GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter to get close to the projected GDP of 7.2 per cent during the current fiscal.
He wondered why the government had not offloaded some of its buffer stock in the market to contain prices when godowns were brimming with stocks thrice in excess of the prescribed level. The “aam aadmi” had been left to fend for himself.
“What is the definition of aam aadmi for this government?” he asked and said it was those earning more than Rs. 25,000 per month as the income tax rebate had been given only to those earning above that.
“The government loots those earning a paltry Rs. 25 as daily wages.”