Budget 2020

With a little help from friends, and many a sop, Piyush Goyal delivers in an unfamiliar role

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cheers as acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal presents the Interim Budget 2019-20 at Lok Sabha, in New Delhi on February 1, 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cheers as acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal presents the Interim Budget 2019-20 at Lok Sabha, in New Delhi on February 1, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen thumping his desk in encouragement at some of the early rhetorical flourishes of the speech.

Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal’s maiden Budget speech, which ran for over an hour and 40 minutes and included an eyebrow-raising “vision document for 2030”, could be divided into the part before his announcement of a farmers income support scheme, and the one after.

Amid much debate over the scope of this election year Interim Budget, Mr. Goyal tentatively stepped up to the plate, only to be heckled by the Opposition carrying placards about the National Sample Survey Organisation’s (NSSO) draft report on jobs.

As he began to speak, it was Home Minister Rajnath Singh who urged the treasury benchers to thump their desks in support of the acting Finance Minister, who had been thrust into an unfamiliar role. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too was seen thumping his desk in encouragement at some of the early rhetorical flourishes of the speech, with some BJP MPs yelling “wah wah” in the background.

 

This was, however, just an early hiccup, as Mr. Goyal unveiled one sop after another for farmers, unorganised sector workers, and the middle class, gaining confidence with each announcement. In fact, the announcements of tax exemptions prompted the treasury benches to burst into a chant of “Modi Modi” for nearly two minutes before order could be restored. The only light interjection by Mr. Goyal was the mention that he had watched film “Uri” on the 2016 surgical strike across the border, just before he announced some sops for the Indian film industry.

Placard on Prime Minister’s desk

The Opposition, after initial interjections and waving of placards by the Congress -- party MP Rajeev Satav left a placard on the Prime Minister’s desk -- confined itself to hoots of derisive laughter when the Finance Minister declared that demonetisation was a move to tackle black money. Trinamool Congress members Idris Ali and Kalyan Banerjee made sure the action was not one-sided with frequent loud laughter.

This Interim Budget speech went further than any other in the past. The general election and the contests ahead seemed very much on everyone’s mind, including the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). On the sidelines, TRS MP K. Kavitha told Mr. Goyal that his income support scheme sounded exactly like the Rayuthu Bandhu scheme in her State. The scheme had propelled her father, K Chandrashekhara Rao, to a second term as Chief Minister.

At the end, while economists and others were beginning to scrutinise the minutiae of the speech, Mr. Goyal touched Roads and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari’s feet, before being surrounded by seemingly-relieved BJP MPs.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:59:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/with-a-little-help-from-friends-and-many-a-sop-piyush-goyal-delivers-in-an-unfamiliar-role/article26152992.ece

Next Story