Special Correspondent

Huge disappointment to farmers andaam aadmi: BJP

  • Timid budget will fuel inflation, encourage hoarders: Sinha
  • No concrete steps to contain prices: TDP

    NEW DELHI: The Opposition on Wednesday flayed Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram's budget proposals, saying they would do nothing to contain inflation or address the problems of farmers and the farm sector.

    The Bharatiya Janata Party said the "timid" budget would fuel inflation further and encourage hoarders. It protested against religion-based allocation for minorities.

    "When everything was going right with the economy progressing at over nine per cent, [with] reserves at $90 billion and the revenue was growing by leaps and bounds, the Minister could have taken some bold steps to provide relief to the common man by way of personal income tax relaxations and reducing interest rates on housing loans and agriculture credit but he chose to lose the golden opportunity," the former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said.

    "Silent on reforms"

    Describing Mr. Chidambaram as a "high tax Finance Minister," he said that while the budget was completely silent on economic reforms it put an additional burden of Rs. 3,000 crore on corporate houses and the common man, bringing some companies under the Minimum Alternative Tax net and increasing the education cess from two to three per cent.

    The budget was a huge disappointment to the aam aadmi (common man) and farmers. The least that the BJP expected was a series of determined steps to curb price rise. Nothing was done to control inflation except making empty promises.

    There was hardly anything for farmers. Addressing rural indebtedness, main reason for rural distress and suicide, was postponed with the appointment of a committee to study the issue. Similarly, on fertilizer subsidy, there was only a promise of further study without providing any relief to farmers.

    Mr. Sinha said it was a matter of concern that the Finance Ministry was working at cross-purposes with the Reserve Bank of India, the Agriculture and Petroleum Ministries, and the Planning Commission.

    The Janata Dal (United) said the Government failed to heed the people's warnings communicated through the election results in Punjab and Uttarakhand. Party president Sharad Yadav said the budget failed to address the issue of food, farmers' problems and price rise, and warned that the entry of big corporate houses into the retail sector would result in suicides even in urban areas.

    The Telugu Desam said Mr. Chidambaram neglected the rural poor and there was no relief for the working class too. "No concrete steps were announced to control the rising prices and no relief was incorporated for the middle class," said party leaders K. Yerannaidu and R. Chandrasekar Reddy. Calling the budget unfocussed, Janata Dal (Secular) leader M.P. Veerendra Kumar said it disappointed ordinary citizens and farmers. The Finance Minister failed to announce measures to check inflation and augment the growth of the agriculture sector.

    Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh said the budget was "full of rhetoric and hollow, with nothing for the poor and farmers, who were committing suicide." It did not address the pressing issue of inflation.

    Raj Babbar of the Jan Morcha said it was a "strange budget," more like a balance sheet. It gave benefits to industry but not to the poor and farmers. "There is nothing in it to curb inflation."

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