Budget 2021

Budget 2020 | A long record speech and an abrupt end

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh react as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wipes her forehead during presentation of the Union Budget 2020-21 in the Lok Sabha on February 1, 2020. Photo: LSTV/PTI  

On February 1, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman added two firsts to her second budget — at two hours and 41 minutes, it was not only the longest Budget speech in independent India but also the first left incomplete with the Minister stopping two pages short of ending her speech.

In the length of her speech, Ms. Sitharaman beat her own record — the interim Budget speech in 2019 lasted two hours and 17 minutes. She peppered this speech with poetic flourishes, making a point of quoting Kashmiri poet Dinanath Kaul, Tamil sage Thiruvalluvar and ancient Tamil poetess Avvaiyar. The nod to Kashmir through a poem elaborating the concept of “watan” (nation) was one of the few political tones added to what was a budget delinked from any election cycle.

Click here to read full speech

Ms. Sitharaman paused while speaking at the end of her marathon speech and sat down as she reportedly felt unwell. She took a sweet, a sugar boost, and was seen wiping sweat off her forehead. Her blood pressure reportedly fell and she was advised to sit. Colleagues appeared to offer her candy. Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur was seen giving her a glass of water. As she appeared reluctant to continue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh asked her if she was well enough to continue. She told Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla that there were only two more pages and the Budget should be considered read.

Later, the Finance Minister said she was “feeling better” and went to the Rajya Sabha to place the Budget in the House, and went on to complete her post-Budget engagements.

Watch | Highlights of Union Budget 2020-21

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 4:16:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/budget-2020-a-long-record-speech-and-an-abrupt-end/article30714553.ece

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